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WESLEYAN   UNIVERSITY   PRESS    Middletown,  Connecticut 

Many  of  these  lectures  and  articles  have  been  delivered  or  published  elsewhere 
in  the  past  two  decades.  The  headnote  preceding  each  one  makes  grateful  ac- 
knowledgment of  its  precise  source. 

The  design  used  on  the  endpapers  is  a  part  of  the  score  of  Mr.  Cage's  Concert 
for  Piano  and  Orchestra,  for  Elaine  de  Kooning,  copyright  ©  I960  by  Henmar 
Press  Inc. 

Copyright  ©  1939,  1944,  1949,  1952,  1954,  1955,  1957,  1958,  1959,  1961  by  John  Cage 

Library  of  Congress  Catalog  Card  Number:  61-14238 
Manufactured  in  the  United  States  of  America 
First  Edition 


To   Whom    It   May   Concern 


Foreword  /  ix 

Manifesto  /  xii 

The  Future  of  Music:  Credo  I  3 

Experimental  Music  /  7 

Experimental  Music:  Doctrine  /  13 

Composition  as  Process  /  18 

I.  Changes  /  18 

II.  Indeterminacy  I  35 

III.  Communication  /  41 

Composition  /  57 

To  Describe  the  Process  of  Composition  Used  in  Music 
of  Changes  and  Imaginary  Landscape  No.  4/57 

To  Describe  the  Process  of  Composition  Used  in  Music 
for  Piano  21-52  /  60 

Forerunners  of  Modern  Music  /  62 

History  of  Experimental  Music  in  the  United  States  /  67 

Erik  Satie  I  76 

Edgard  Varese  /  83 

Four  Statements  on  the  Dance  /  86 

Goal:  New  Music,  New  Dance  /  87 

Grace  and  Clarity  /  89 

In  This  Day  .  .  .  /  94 

2  Pages,  122  Words  on  Music  and  Dance  /  96 
On  Robert  Rauschenberg,  Artist,  and  His  Work  /  98 
Lecture  on  Nothing  /  109 
Lecture  on  Something  /  128 
45'  for  a  Speaker  /  146 

Where  Are  We  Going?  and  What  Are  We  Doing?  /  194 
Indeterminacy  /  260 
Music  Lovers'  Field  Companion  /  274 


For  over  twenty  years  I  have  been  writing  articles  and  giving  lectures. 
Many  of  them  have  been  unusual  in  form— this  is  especially  true  of  the  lec- 
tures—because I  have  employed  in  them  means  of  composing  analogous  to 
my  composing  means  in  the  field  of  music.  My  intention  has  been,  often,  to 
say  what  I  had  to  say  in  a  way  that  would  exemplify  it;  that  would,  con- 
ceivably, permit  the  listener  to  experience  what  I  had  to  say  rather  than 
just  hear  about  it.  This  means  that,  being  as  I  am  engaged  in  a  variety  of 
activities,  I  attempt  to  introduce  into  each  one  of  them  aspects  convention- 
ally limited  to  one  or  more  of  the  others. 

So  it  was  that  I  gave  about  1949  my  Lecture  on  Nothing  at  the  Artists' 
Club  on  Eighth  Street  in  New  York  City  (the  artists'  club  started  by  Robert 
Motherwell,  which  predated  the  popular  one  associated  with  Philip  Pavia, 
Bill  de  Kooning,  et  al. ) .  This  Lecture  on  Nothing  was  written  in  the  same 
rhythmic  structure  I  employed  at  the  time  in  my  musical  compositions 
( Sonatas  and  Interludes,  Three  Dances,  etc. ) .  One  of  the  structural  divi- 
sions was  the  repetition,  some  fourteen  times,  of  a  single  page  in  which 
occurred  the  refrain,  "If  anyone  is  sleepy  let  him  go  to  sleep."  Jeanne 
Reynal,  I  remember,  stood  up  part  way  through,  screamed,  and  then  said, 
while  I  continued  speaking,  "John,  I  dearly  love  you,  but  I  can't  bear 
another  minute."  She  then  walked  out.  Later,  during  the  question  period, 
I  gave  one  of  six  previously  prepared  answers  regardless  of  the  question 
asked.  This  was  a  reflection  of  my  engagement  in  Zen. 


At  Black  Mountain  College  in  1952, 1  organized  an  event  that  involved 
the  paintings  of  Bob  Rauschenberg,  the  dancing  of  Merce  Cunningham, 
films,  slides,  phonograph  records,  radios,  the  poetries  of  Charles  Olson  and 
M.  C.  Richards  recited  from  the  tops  of  ladders,  and  the  pianism  of  David 
Tudor,  together  with  my  Juilliard  lecture,  which  ends:  "A  piece  of  string, 
a  sunset,  each  acts."  The  audience  was  seated  in  the  center  of  all  this  activ- 
ity. Later  that  summer,  vacationing  in  New  England,  I  visited  America's 
first  synagogue,  to  discover  that  the  congregation  was  there  seated  pre- 
cisely the  way  I  had  arranged  the  audience  at  Black  Mountain. 

As  I  look  back,  I  realize  that  a  concern  with  poetry  was  early  with  me. 
At  Pomona  College,  in  response  to  questions  about  the  Lake  poets,  I  wrote 
in  the  manner  of  Gertrude  Stein,  irrelevantly  and  repetitiously.  I  got  an  A. 
The  second  time  I  did  it  I  was  failed.  Since  the  Lecture  on  Nothing  there 
have  been  more  than  a  dozen  pieces  that  were  unconventionally  written, 
including  some  that  were  done  by  means  of  chance  operations  and  one  that 
was  largely  a  series  of  questions  left  unanswered.  When  M.  C.  Richards 
asked  me  why  I  didn't  one  day  give  a  conventional  informative  lecture, 
adding  that  that  would  be  the  most  shocking  thing  I  could  do,  I  said,  "I 
don't  give  these  lectures  to  surprise  people,  but  out  of  a  need  for  poetry." 

As  I  see  it,  poetry  is  not  prose  simply  because  poetry  is  in  one  way  or 
another  formalized.  It  is  not  poetry  by  reason  of  its  content  or  ambiguity 
but  by  reason  of  its  allowing  musical  elements  (time,  sound)  to  be  intro- 
duced into  the  world  of  words.  Thus,  traditionally,  information  no  matter 
how  stuffy  (e.g.,  the  sutras  and  shastras  of  India)  was  transmitted  in 
poetry.  It  was  easier  to  grasp  that  way.  Karl  Shapiro  may  have  been  think- 
ing along  these  lines  when  he  wrote  his  Essay  on  Rime  in  poetry. 

Committing  these  formalized  lectures  to  print  has  presented  certain 
problems,  and  some  of  the  solutions  reached  are  compromises  between 
what  would  have  been  desirable  and  what  was  practicable.  The  lecture 
Where  Are  We  Going?  and  What  Are  We  Doing?  is  an  example.  In  this 
and  other  cases,  a  headnote  explains  the  means  to  be  used  in  the  event  of 
oral  delivery. 

Not  all  these  pieces,  of  course,  are  unusual  in  form.  Several  were  writ- 
ten to  be  printed— that  is,  to  be  seen  rather  than  to  be  heard.  Several  others 
were  composed  and  delivered  as  conventional  informative  lectures  (with- 
out shocking  their  audiences  for  that  reason,  so  far  as  I  could  determine). 


This  collection  does  not  include  all  that  I  have  written;  it  does  reflect  what 
have  been,  and  continue  to  be,  my  major  concerns. 

Critics  frequently  cry  "Dada"  after  attending  one  of  my  concerts  or 
hearing  one  of  my  lectures.  Others  bemoan  my  interest  in  Zen.  One  of  the 
liveliest  lectures  I  ever  heard  was  given  by  Nancy  Wilson  Ross  at  the 
Cornish  School  in  Seattle.  It  was  called  Zen  Buddhism  and  Dada.  It  is  pos- 
sible to  make  a  connection  between  the  two,  but  neither  Dada  nor  Zen  is 
a  fixed  tangible.  They  change;  and  in  quite  different  ways  in  different 
places  and  times,  they  invigorate  action.  What  was  Dada  in  the  1920's  is 
now,  with  the  exception  of  the  work  of  Marcel  Duchamp,  just  art.  What  I 
do,  I  do  not  wish  blamed  on  Zen,  though  without  my  engagement  with 
Zen  ( attendance  at  lectures  by  Alan  Watts  and  D.  T.  Suzuki,  reading  of 
the  literature)  I  doubt  whether  I  would  have  done  what  I  have  done.  I  am 
told  that  Alan  Watts  has  questioned  the  relation  between  my  work  and 
Zen.  I  mention  this  in  order  to  free  Zen  of  any  responsibility  for  my  actions. 
I  shall  continue  making  them,  however.  I  often  point  out  that  Dada  nowa- 
days has  in  it  a  space,  an  emptiness,  that  it  formerly  lacked.  What  now- 
adays, America  mid-twentieth  century,  is  Zen? 

I  am  grateful  to  Richard  K.  Winslow,  composer,  whose  musical  ways 
are  different  from  mine,  who  seven  years  ago,  as  Professor  of  Music  at 
Wesleyan  University,  engaged  David  Tudor  and  me  for  a  concert  and 
who,  at  the  time  as  we  were  walking  along,  introduced  me  without  warn- 
ing to  his  habit  of  suddenly  quietly  singing.  Since  then,  he  has  twice  invited 
us  back  to  Wesleyan,  even  though  our  programs  were  consistently  percus- 
sive, noisy,  and  silent,  and  the  views  which  I  expressed  were  consistently 
antischolastic  and  anarchic.  He  helped  obtain  for  me  the  Fellowship  at  the 
Wesleyan  Center  for  Advanced  Studies  which,  in  spite  of  the  air-condition- 
ing, I  have  enjoyed  during  the  last  academic  year.  And  he  inspired  the 
University  Press  to  publish  this  book.  The  reader  may  argue  the  propri- 
ety of  this  support,  but  he  must  admire,  as  I  do,  Winslow's  courage  and 


June  1961 


The  text  below  was  written  for  Julian  Beck  and  Judith  Molina,  directors  of  the 
Living  Theatre,  for  use  in  their  program  booklet  when  they  were  performing  at 
the  Cherry  Lane  Theatre,  Greenwich  Village,  New  York. 

written  in  response    i 

toarequestfor  \   .  ,  ,,.,, 

)  instantaneous  and  unpredictable 

a  manifesto  on  ( 

music,  1952  1 

nothing  is  accomplished  by  writing  a  piece  of  music    J  our  ears  are 

-      «  "  -  hearing"     "     "     "  >  now 

"     "  "  "  playing"     "      "     "         \    in  excellent  condition 

—John  CA9E 




The  following  text  was  delivered  as  a  talk  at  a  meeting  of  a  Seattle  arts  society 
organized  by  Bonnie  Bird  in  1937.  It  was  printed  in  the  brochure  accompanying 
George  Avakian's  recording  of  my  twenty-five-year  retrospective  concert 
at  Town  Hall,  New  York,  in  1958. 



Wherever  we  are,  what  we  hear  is  mostly 
noise.  When  we  ignore  it,  it  disturbs  us.  When  we  listen  to  it,  we  find  it 
fascinating.  The  sound  of  a  truck  at  fifty  miles  per  hour.  Static  between  the 
stations.  Rain.  We  want  to  capture  and  control  these  sounds,  to  use  them 
not  as  sound  effects  but  as  musical  instruments.  Every  film  studio  has  a 
library  of  "sound  effects"  recorded  on  film.  With  a  film  phonograph  it  is  now 
possible  to  control  the  amplitude  and  frequency  of  any  one  of  these  sounds 
and  to  give  to  it  rhythms  within  or  beyond  the  reach  of  the  imagination. 
Given  four  film  phonographs,  we  can  compose  and  perform  a  quartet  for 
explosive  motor,  wind,  heartbeat,  and  landslide. 


If  this  word  "music"  is 
sacred  and  reserved  for  eighteenth-  and  nineteenth-century  instruments, 
we  can  substitute  a  more  meaningful  term:  organization  of  sound. 


Most  inventors  of  electrical  musical  instruments  have  at- 
tempted to  imitate  eighteenth-  and  nineteenth-century  instruments,  just  as 
early  automobile  designers  copied  the  carriage.  The  Novachord  and  the 


Solovox  are  examples  of  this  desire  to  imitate  the  past  rather  than  construct 
the  future.  When  Theremin  provided  an  instrument  with  genuinely  new 
possibilities,  Thereministes  did  their  utmost  to  make  the  instrument  sound 
like  some  old  instrument,  giving  it  a  sickeningly  sweet  vibrato,  and  per- 
forming upon  it,  with  difficulty,  masterpieces  from  the  past.  Although  the 
instrument  is  capable  of  a  wide  variety  of  sound  qualities,  obtained  by  the 
turning  of  a  dial,  Thereministes  act  as  censors,  giving  the  public  those 
sounds  they  think  the  public  will  like.  We  are  shielded  from  new  sound 

The  special  function  of  electrical  instruments  will  be  to  pro- 
vide complete  control  of  the  overtone  structure  of  tones  (as  opposed  to 
noises)  and  to  make  these  tones  available  in  any  frequency,  amplitude, 
and  duration. 


It  is  now  possible  for 
composers  to  make  music  directly,  without  the  assistance  of  intermediary 
performers.  Any  design  repeated  often  enough  on  a  sound  track  is  audible. 
Two  hundred  and  eighty  circles  per  second  on  a  sound  track  will  produce 
one  sound,  whereas  a  portrait  of  Beethoven  repeated  fifty  times  per  second 
on  a  sound  track  will  have  not  only  a  different  pitch  but  a  different  sound 




The  composer  ( organizer  of  sound )  will  be  faced  not  only  with  the  entire 
field  of  sound  but  also  with  the  entire  field  of  time.  The  "frame"  or  fraction 
of  a  second,  following  established  film  technique,  will  probably  be  the  basic 
unit  in  the  measurement  of  time.  No  rhythm  will  be  beyond  the  composer's 


Schoenberg's  method  assigns  to  each  material, 
in  a  group  of  equal  materials,  its  function  with  respect  to  the  group.  ( Har- 
mony assigned  to  each  material,  in  a  group  of  unequal  materials,  its  func- 
tion with  respect  to  the  fundamental  or  most  important  material  in  the 
group. )  Schoenberg's  method  is  analogous  to  a  society  in  which  the  empha- 
sis is  on  the  group  and  the  integration  of  the  individual  in  the  group. 


Percussion  music  is  a  contemporary  transition  from  keyboard-influ- 
enced music  to  the  all-sound  music  of  the  future.  Any  sound  is  acceptable  to 
the  composer  of  percussion  music;  he  explores  the  academically  forbidden 
"non-musical"  field  of  sound  insofar  as  is  manually  possible. 

Methods  of  writing  percussion  music  have  as  their  goal  the  rhythmic 
structure  of  a  composition.  As  soon  as  these  methods  are  crystallized  into 
one  or  several  widely  accepted  methods,  the  means  will  exist  for  group  im- 
provisations of  unwritten  but  culturally  important  music.  This  has  already 
taken  place  in  Oriental  cultures  and  in  hot  jazz. 





Before  this  happens,  centers  of  experi- 
mental music  must  be  established.  In  these  centers,  the  new  materials, 
oscillators,  turntables,  generators,  means  for  amplifying  small  sounds,  film 
phonographs,  etc.,  available  for  use.  Composers  at  work  using  twentieth- 
century  means  for  making  music.  Performances  of  results.  Organization 
of  sound  for  extra-musical  purposes  (theatre,  dance,  radio,  film). 


It  was  a  Wednesday.  I  was  in  the  sixth  grade.  I  overheard  Dad  saying  to  Mother,  "Get  ready:  we're 
going  to  New  Zealand  Saturday."  I  got  ready.  I  read  everything  I  could  find  in  the  school  library  about 
New  Zealand.  Saturday  came.  Nothing  happened.  The  project  was  not  even  mentioned,  that  day  or  any 
succeeding  day. 

M.  C.  Richards  went  to  see  the  Bolshoi  Ballet.  She  was  delighted  with  the  dancing.  She  said,  "It's  not 
what  they  do;  it's  the  ardor  with  which  they  do  it."  I  said,  "Yes:  composition,  performance,  and  audition  or 
observation  are  really  different  things.  They  have  next  to  nothing  to  do  with  one  another."  Once,  I  told  her, 
I  was  at  a  house  on  Riverside  Drive  where  people  were  invited  to  be  present  at  a  Zen  service  conducted  by 
a  Japanese  Roshi.  He  did  the  ritual,  rose  petals  and  all.  Afterwards  tea  was  served  with  rice  cookies.  And 
then  the  hostess  and  her  husband,  employing  an  out-of-tune  piano  and  a  cracked  voice,  gave  a  wretched 
performance  of  an  excerpt  from  a  third-rate  Italian  opera.  I  was  embarrassed  and  glanced  towards  the  Roshi 
to  see  how  he  was  taking  it.  The  expression  on  his  face  was  absolutely  beatific. 

A  young  man  in  Japan  arranged  his  circumstances  so  that  he  was  able  to  travel  to  a  distant  island  to 
study  Zen  with  a  certain  Master  for  a  three-year  period.  At  the  end  of  the  three  years,  feeling  no  sense  of 
accomplishment,  he  presented  himself  to  the  Master  and  announced  his  departure.  The  Master  said,  "You've 
been  here  three  years.  Why  don't  you  stay  three  months  more?"  The  student  agreed,  but  at  the  end  of  the 
three  months  he  still  felt  that  he  had  made  no  advance.  When  he  told  the  Master  again  that  he  was  leaving, 
the  Master  said,  "Look  now,  you've  been  here  three  years  and  three  months.  Stay  three  weeks  longer."  The 
student  did,  but  with  no  success.  When  he  told  the  Master  that  absolutely  nothing  had  happened,  the  Master 
said,  "You've  been  here  three  years,  three  months,  and  three  weeks.  Stay  three  more  days,  and  if,  at  the 
end  of  that  time,  you  have  not  attained  enlightenment,  commit  suicide."  Towards  the  end  of  the  second 
day,  the  student  was  enlightened. 


The  following  statement  was  given  as  an  address  to  the  convention  of  the 
Music  Teachers  National  Association  in  Chicago  in  the  winter  of  1957.  It  was 
printed  in  the  brochure  accompanying  George  Avakian's  recording  of 
my  twenty-five-year  retrospective  concert  at  Town  Hall,  New  York,  in  1958. 


Formerly,  whenever  anyone  said  the  music  I  presented  was  experimental, 
I  objected.  It  seemed  to  me  that  composers  knew  what  they  were  doing, 
and  that  the  experiments  that  had  been  made  had  taken  place  prior  to  the 
finished  works,  just  as  sketches  are  made  before  paintings  and  rehearsals 
precede  performances.  But,  giving  the  matter  further  thought,  I  realized 
that  there  is  ordinarily  an  essential  difference  between  making  a  piece  of 
music  and  hearing  one.  A  composer  knows  his  work  as  a  woodsman  knows 
a  path  he  has  traced  and  retraced,  while  a  listener  is  confronted  by  the 
same  work  as  one  is  in  the  woods  by  a  plant  he  has  never  seen  before. 

Now,  on  the  other  hand,  times  have  changed;  music  has  changed;  and 
I  no  longer  object  to  the  word  "experimental."  I  use  it  in  fact  to  describe  all 
the  music  that  especially  interests  me  and  to  which  I  am  devoted,  whether 
someone  else  wrote  it  or  I  myself  did.  What  has  happened  is  that  I  have 
become  a  listener  and  the  music  has  become  something  to  hear.  Many 
people,  of  course,  have  given  up  saying  "experimental"  about  this  new 
music.  Instead,  they  either  move  to  a  halfway  point  and  say  "controversial" 
or  depart  to  a  greater  distance  and  question  whether  this  "music"  is  music 
at  all. 

For  in  this  new  music  nothing  takes  place  but  sounds:  those  that  are 
notated  and  those  that  are  not.  Those  that  are  not  notated  appear  in  the 


written  music  as  silences,  opening  the  doors  of  the  music  to  the  sounds  that 
happen  to  be  in  the  environment.  This  openness  exists  in  the  fields  of 
modern  sculpture  and  architecture.  The  glass  houses  of  Mies  van  der  Rohe 
reflect  their  environment,  presenting  to  the  eye  images  of  clouds,  trees,  or 
grass,  according  to  the  situation.  And  while  looking  at  the  constructions  in 
wire  of  the  sculptor  Richard  Lippold,  it  is  inevitable  that  one  will  see  other 
things,  and  people  too,  if  they  happen  to  be  there  at  the  same  time,  through 
the  network  of  wires.  There  is  no  such  thing  as  an  empty  space  or  an  empty 
time.  There  is  always  something  to  see,  something  to  hear.  In  fact,  try  as 
we  may  to  make  a  silence,  we  cannot.  For  certain  engineering  purposes,  it 
is  desirable  to  have  as  silent  a  situation  as  possible.  Such  a  room  is  called  an 
anechoic  chamber,  its  six  walls  made  of  special  material,  a  room  without 
echoes.  I  entered  one  at  Harvard  University  several  years  ago  and  heard 
two  sounds,  one  high  and  one  low.  When  I  described  them  to  the  engineer 
in  charge,  he  informed  me  that  the  high  one  was  my  nervous  system  in 
operation,  the  low  one  my  blood  in  circulation.  Until  I  die  there  will  be 
sounds.  And  they  will  continue  following  my  death.  One  need  not  fear 
about  the  future  of  music. 

But  this  fearlessness  only  follows  if,  at  the  parting  of  the  ways,  where 
it  is  realized  that  sounds  occur  whether  intended  or  not,  one  turns  in  the 
direction  of  those  he  does  not  intend.  This  turning  is  psychological  and 
seems  at  first  to  be  a  giving  up  of  everything  that  belongs  to  humanity— for 
a  musician,  the  giving  up  of  music.  This  psychological  turning  leads  to  the 
world  of  nature,  where,  gradually  or  suddenly,  one  sees  that  humanity 
and  nature,  not  separate,  are  in  this  world  together;  that  nothing  was  lost 
when  everything  was  given  away.  In  fact,  everything  is  gained.  In  musical 
terms,  any  sounds  may  occur  in  any  combination  and  in  any  continuity. 

And  it  is  a  striking  coincidence  that  just  now  the  technical  means  to 
produce  such  a  free-ranging  music  are  available.  When  the  Allies  entered 
Germany  towards  the  end  of  World  War  II,  it  was  discovered  that  improve- 
ments had  been  made  in  recording  sounds  magnetically  such  that  tape  had 
become  suitable  for  the  high-fidelity  recording  of  music.  First  in  France 
with  the  work  of  Pierre  Schaeffer,  later  here,  in  Germany,  in  Italy,  in  Japan, 
and  perhaps,  without  my  knowing  it,  in  other  places,  magnetic  tape  was 


used  not  simply  to  record  performances  of  music  but  to  make  a  new  music 
that  was  possible  only  because  of  it.  Given  a  minimum  of  two  tape  recorders 
and  a  disk  recorder,  the  following  processes  are  possible:  1 )  a  single  record- 
ing of  any  sound  may  be  made;  2)  a  rerecording  may  be  made,  in  the 
course  of  which,  by  means  of  filters  and  circuits,  any  or  all  of  the  physical 
characteristics  of  a  given  recorded  sound  may  be  altered;  3)  electronic 
mixing  (combining  on  a  third  machine  sounds  issuing  from  two  others) 
permits  the  presentation  of  any  number  of  sounds  in  combination;  4 )  ordi- 
nary splicing  permits  the  juxtaposition  of  any  sounds,  and  when  it  includes 
unconventional  cuts,  it,  like  rerecording,  brings  about  alterations  of  any  or 
all  of  the  original  physical  characteristics.  The  situation  made  available  by 
these  means  is  essentially  a  total  sound-space,  the  limits  of  which  are  ear- 
determined  only,  the  position  of  a  particular  sound  in  this  space  being  the 
result  of  five  determinants:  frequency  or  pitch,  amplitude  or  loudness, 
overtone  structure  or  timbre,  duration,  and  morphology  ( how  the  sound 
begins,  goes  on,  and  dies  away).  By  the  alteration  of  any  one  of  these 
determinants,  the  position  of  the  sound  in  sound-space  changes.  Any  sound 
at  any  point  in  this  total  sound-space  can  move  to  become  a  sound  at  any 
other  point.  But  advantage  can  be  taken  of  these  possibilities  only  if  one  is 
willing  to  change  one's  musical  habits  radically.  That  is,  one  may  take 
advantage  of  the  appearance  of  images  without  visible  transition  in  distant 
places,  which  is  a  way  of  saying  "television,"  if  one  is  willing  to  stay  at  home 
instead  of  going  to  a  theatre.  Or  one  may  fly  if  one  is  willing  to  give  up 

Musical  habits  include  scales,  modes,  theories  of  counterpoint  and  har- 
mony, and  the  study  of  the  timbres,  singly  and  in  combination  of  a 
limited  number  of  sound-producing  mechanisms.  In  mathematical  terms 
these  all  concern  discrete  steps.  They  resemble  walking— in  the  case  of 
pitches,  on  steppingstones  twelve  in  number.  This  cautious  stepping  is  not 
characteristic  of  the  possibilities  of  magnetic  tape,  which  is  revealing  to  us 
that  musical  action  or  existence  can  occur  at  any  point  or  along  any  line 
or  curve  or  what  have  you  in  total  sound-space;  that  we  are,  in  fact,  tech- 
nically equipped  to  transform  our  contemporary  awareness  of  nature's 
manner  of  operation  into  art. 


Again  there  is  a  parting  of  the  ways.  One  has  a  choice.  If  he  does  not 
wish  to  give  up  his  attempts  to  control  sound,  he  may  complicate  his  musi- 
cal technique  towards  an  approximation  of  the  new  possibilities  and  aware- 
ness. ( I  use  the  word  "approximation"  because  a  measuring  mind  can  never 
finally  measure  nature. )  Or,  as  before,  one  may  give  up  the  desire  to  control 
sound,  clear  his  mind  of  music,  and  set  about  discovering  means  to  let 
sounds  be  themselves  rather  than  vehicles  for  man-made  theories  or  expres- 
sions of  human  sentiments. 

This  project  will  seem  fearsome  to  many,  but  on  examination  it  gives 
no  cause  for  alarm.  Hearing  sounds  which  are  just  sounds  immediately  sets 
the  theorizing  mind  to  theorizing,  and  the  emotions  of  human  beings  are 
continually  aroused  by  encounters  with  nature.  Does  not  a  mountain  unin- 
tentionally evoke  in  us  a  sense  of  wonder?  otters  along  a  stream  a  sense  of 
mirth?  night  in  the  woods  a  sense  of  fear?  Do  not  rain  falling  and  mists 
rising  up  suggest  the  love  binding  heaven  and  earth?  Is  not  decaying  flesh 
loathsome?  Does  not  the  death  of  someone  we  love  bring  sorrow?  And  is 
there  a  greater  hero  than  the  least  plant  that  grows?  What  is  more  angry 
than  the  flash  of  lightning  and  the  sound  of  thunder?  These  responses  to 
nature  are  mine  and  will  not  necessarily  correspond  with  another's.  Emo- 
tion takes  place  in  the  person  who  has  it.  And  sounds,  when  allowed  to  be 
themselves,  do  not  require  that  those  who  hear  them  do  so  unfeelingly.  The 
opposite  is  what  is  meant  by  response  ability. 

New  music:  new  listening.  Not  an  attempt  to  understand  something 
that  is  being  said,  for,  if  something  were  being  said,  the  sounds  would  be 
given  the  shapes  of  words.  Just  an  attention  to  the  activity  of  sounds. 

Those  involved  with  the  composition  of  experimental  music  find  ways 
and  means  to  remove  themselves  from  the  activities  of  the  sounds  they 
make.  Some  employ  chance  operations,  derived  from  sources  as  ancient  as 
the  Chinese  Book  of  Changes,  or  as  modern  as  the  tables  of  random  num- 
bers used  also  by  physicists  in  research.  Or,  analogous  to  the  Rorschach 
tests  of  psychology,  the  interpretation  of  imperfections  in  the  paper  upon 
which  one  is  writing  may  provide  a  music  free  from  one's  memory  and 
imagination.  Geometrical  means  employing  spatial  superimpositions  at 


variance  with  the  ultimate  performance  in  time  may  be  used.  The  total  field 
of  possibilities  may  be  roughly  divided  and  the  actual  sounds  within  these 
divisions  may  be  indicated  as  to  number  but  left  to  the  performer  or  to  the 
splicer  to  choose.  In  this  latter  case,  the  composer  resembles  the  maker  of  a 
camera  who  allows  someone  else  to  take  the  picture. 

Whether  one  uses  tape  or  writes  for  conventional  instruments,  the 
present  musical  situation  has  changed  from  what  it  was  before  tape  came 
into  being.  This  also  need  not  arouse  alarm,  for  the  coming  into  being  of 
something  new  does  not  by  that  fact  deprive  what  was  of  its  proper  place. 
Each  thing  has  its  own  place,  never  takes  the  place  of  something  else;  and 
-  the  more  things  there  are,  as  is  said,  the  merrier. 

But  several  effects  of  tape  on  experimental  music  may  be  mentioned. 
Since  so  many  inches  of  tape  equal  so  many  seconds  of  time,  it  has  become 
more  and  more  usual  that  notation  is  in  space  rather  than  in  symbols  of 
quarter,  half,  and  sixteenth  notes  and  so  on.  Thus  where  on  a  page  a  note 
appears  will  correspond  to  when  in  a  time  it  is  to  occur.  A  stop  watch  is 
used  to  facilitate  a  performance;  and  a  rhythm  results  which  is  a  far  cry 
from  horse's  hoofs  and  other  regular  beats. 

Also  it  has  been  impossible  with  the  playing  of  several  separate  tapes 
at  once  to  achieve  perfect  synchronization.  This  fact  has  led  some  towards 
the  manufacture  of  multiple-tracked  tapes  and  machines  with  a  corre- 
sponding number  of  heads;  while  others— those  who  have  accepted  the 
sounds  they  do  not  intend— now  realize  that  the  score,  the  requiring  that 
many  parts  be  played  in  a  particular  togetherness,  is  not  an  accurate  repre- 
sentation of  how  things  are.  These  now  compose  parts  but  not  scores,  and 
the  parts  may  be  combined  in  any  unthought  ways.  This  means  that  each 
performance  of  such  a  piece  of  music  is  unique,  as  interesting  to  its  com- 
poser as  to  others  listening.  It  is  easy  to  see  again  the  parallel  with  nature, 
for  even  with  leaves  of  the  same  tree,  no  two  are  exactly  alike.  The  parallel 
in  art  is  the  sculpture  with  moving  parts,  the  mobile. 

It  goes  without  saying  that  dissonances  and  noises  are  welcome  in  this 
new  music.  But  so  is  the  dominant  seventh  chord  if  it  happens  to  put  in  an 


Rehearsals  have  shown  that  this  new  music,  whether  for  tape  or  for  in- 
struments, is  more  clearly  heard  when  the  several  loud-speakers  or  per- 
formers are  separated  in  space  rather  than  grouped  closely  together.  For 
this  music  is  not  concerned  with  harmoniousness  as  generally  understood, 
where  the  quality  of  harmony  results  from  a  blending  of  several  elements. 
Here  we  are  concerned  with  the  coexistence  of  dissimilars,  and  the  central 
points  where  fusion  occurs  are  many:  the  ears  of  the  listeners  wherever 
they  are.  This  disharmony,  to  paraphrase  Bergson's  statement  about  dis- 
order, is  simply  a  harmony  to  which  many  are  unaccustomed. 

Where  do  we  go  from  here?  Towards  theatre.  That  art  more  than 
music  resembles  nature.  We  have  eyes  as  well  as  ears,  and  it  is  our  busi- 
ness while  we  are  alive  to  use  them. 

And  what  is  the  purpose  of  writing  music?  One  is,  of  course,  not  deal- 
ing with  purposes  but  dealing  with  sounds.  Or  the  answer  must  take  the 
form  of  paradox:  a  purposeful  purposelessness  or  a  purposeless  play.  This 
play,  however,  is  an  affirmation  of  life— not  an  attempt  to  bring  order  out 
of  chaos  nor  to  suggest  improvements  in  creation,  but  simply  a  way  of 
waking  up  to  the  very  life  we're  living,  which  is  so  excellent  once  one  gets 
one's  mind  and  one's  desires  out  of  its  way  and  lets  it  act  of  its  own  accord. 

When  Xenia  and  I  came  to  New  York  from  Chicago,  we  arrived  in  the  bus  station  with  about  twenty-five 
cents.  We  were  expecting  to  stay  for  a  while  with  Peggy  Guggenheim  and  Max  Ernst.  Max  Ernst  had  met 
us  in  Chicago  and  had  said,  "Whenever  you  come  to  New  York,  come  and  stay  with  us.  We  have  a  big 
house  on  the  East  River."  I  went  to  the  phone  booth  in  the  bus  station,  put  in  a  nickel,  and  dialed.  Max  Ernst 
answered.  He  didn't  recognize  my  voice.  Finally  he  said,  "Are  you  thirsty?"  I  said,  "Yes."  He  said,  "Well, 
come  over  tomorrow  for  cocktails."  I  went  back  to  Xenia  and  told  her  what  had  happened.  She  said,  "Call 
him  back.  We  have  everything  to  gain  and  nothing  to  lose."  I  did.  He  said,  "Oh!  It's  you.  We've  been 
waiting  for  you  for  weeks.  Your  room's  ready.  Come  right  over." 

Dad  is  an  inventor.  In  1912  his  submarine  had  the  world's  record  for  staying  under  water.  Running  as 
it  did  by  means  of  a  gasoline  engine,  it  left  bubbles  on  the  surface,  so  it  was  not  employed  during  World 
War  I.  Dad  says  he  does  his  best  work  when  he  is  sound  asleep.  I  was  explaining  at  the  New  School  that  the 
way  to  get  ideas  is  to  do  something  boring.  For  instance,  composing  in  such  a  way  that  the  process  of 
composing  is  boring  induces  ideas.  They  fly  into  one's  head  like  birds.  Is  that  what  Dad  meant? 


This  article,  there  titled  Experimental  Music,  first  appeared  in  The  Score  and 
I.  M.  A.  Magazine,  London,  issue  of  June  1955.  The  inclusion  of  a  dialogue 
between  an  uncompromising  teacher  and  an  unenlightened  student,  and  the 
addition  of  the  word  "doctrine"  to  the  original  title,  are  references  to 
the  Huang-Po  Doctrine  of  Universal  Mind. 


Objections  are  sometimes  made  by  composers  to  the  use  of  the  term 
experimental  as  descriptive  of  their  works,  for  it  is  claimed  that  any 
experiments  that  are  made  precede  the  steps  that  are  finally  taken  with 
determination,  and  that  this  determination  is  knowing,  having,  in  fact,  a 
particular,  if  unconventional,  ordering  of  the  elements  used  in  view.  These 
objections  are  clearly  justifiable,  but  only  where,  as  among  contemporary 
evidences  in  serial  music,  it  remains  a  question  of  making  a  thing  upon  the 
boundaries,  structure,  and  expression  of  which  attention  is  focused.  Where, 
on  the  other  hand,  attention  moves  towards  the  observation  and  audition  of 
many  things  at  once,  including  those  that  are  environmental— becomes, 
that  is,  inclusive  rather  than  exclusive— no  question  of  making,  in  the  sense 
of  forming  understandable  structures,  can  arise  (one  is  tourist),  and  here 
the  word  "experimental"  is  apt,  providing  it  is  understood  not  as  descriptive 
of  an  act  to  be  later  judged  in  terms  of  success  and  failure,  but  simply  as  of 
an  act  the  outcome  of  which  is  unknown.  What  has  been  determined? 

For,  when,  after  convincing  oneself  ignorantly  that  sound  has,  as  its 
clearly  defined  opposite,  silence,  that  since  duration  is  the  only  character- 
istic of  sound  that  is  measurable  in  terms  of  silence,  therefore  any  valid 
structure  involving  sounds  and  silences  should  be  based,  not  as  occidentally 
traditional,  on  frequency,  but  rightly  on  duration,  one  enters  an  anechoic 
chamber,  as  silent  as  technologically  possible  in  1951,  to  discover  that  one 
hears  two  sounds  of  one's  own  unintentional  making  (nerve's  systematic 
operation,  blood's  circulation ) ,  the  situation  one  is  clearly  in  is  not  objec- 


tive  (sound-silence),  but  rather  subjective  (sounds  only),  those  intended 
and  those  others  (so-called  silence)  not  intended.  If,  at  this  point,  one  says, 
"Yes!  I  do  not  discriminate  between  intention  and  non-intention,"  the  splits, 
subject-object,  art-life,  etc.,  disappear,  an  identification  has  been  made  with 
the  material,  and  actions  are  then  those  relevant  to  its  nature,  i.e.: 

A  sound  does  not  view  itself  as  thought,  as  ought,  as  needing  another 
sound  for  its  elucidation,  as  etc.;  it  has  no  time  for  any  consideration— it  is 
occupied  with  the  performance  of  its  characteristics:  before  it  has  died 
away  it  must  have  made  perfectly  exact  its  frequency,  its  loudness,  its 
length,  its  overtone  structure,  the  precise  morphology  of  these  and  of  itself. 

Urgent,  unique,  uninformed  about  history  and  theory,  beyond  the 
imagination,  central  to  a  sphere  without  surface,  its  becoming  is  unim- 
peded, energetically  broadcast.  There  is  no  escape  from  its  action.  It  does 
not  exist  as  one  of  a  series  of  discrete  steps,  but  as  transmission  in  all  direc- 
tions from  the  field's  center.  It  is  inextricably  synchronous  with  all  other, 
sounds,  non-sounds,  which  latter,  received  by  other  sets  than  the  ear,  oper 
ate  in  the  same  manner. 

A  sound  accomplishes  nothing;  without  it  life  would  not  last  out  the 

Relevant  action  is  theatrical  (music  [imaginary  separation  of  hearing 
from  the  other  senses]  does  not  exist),  inclusive  and  intentionally  pur- 
poseless. Theatre  is  continually  becoming  that  it  is  becoming;  each  human 
being  is  at  the  best  point  for  reception.  Relevant  response  (getting  up  in 
the  morning  and  discovering  oneself  musician)  (action,  art)  can  be  made 
with  any  number  (including  none  [none  and  number,  like  silence  and 
music,  are  unreal] )  of  sounds.  The  automatic  minimum  (see  above)  is  two. 

Are  you  deaf  (by  nature,  choice,  desire)  or  can  you  hear  (externals, 
tympani,  labyrinths  in  whack)? 

Beyond  them  (ears)  is  the  power  of  discrimination  which,  among 
other  confused  actions,  weakly  pulls  apart  (abstraction),  ineffectually 
establishes  as  not  to  suffer  alteration  (the  "work"),  and  unskillfully  pro- 
tects from  interruption  (museum,  concert  hall)  what  springs,  elastic, 
spontaneous,  back  together  again  with  a  beyond  that  power  which  is 
fluent  (it  moves  in  or  out),  pregnant  (it  can  appear  when-  where-  as 
what-ever  [rose,  nail,  constellation,  485.73482  cycles  per  second,  piece  of 
string]),  related  (it  is  you  yourself  in  the  form  you  have  that  instant 


taken),  obscure  (you  will  never  be  able  to  give  a  satisfactory  report  even 
to  yourself  of  just  what  happened). 

In  view,  then,  of  a  totality  of  possibilities,  no  knowing  action  is  com- 
mensurate, since  the  character  of  the  knowledge  acted  upon  prohibits  all 
but  some  eventualities.  From  a  realist  position,  such  action,  though  cau- 
tious, hopeful,  and  generally  entered  into,  is  unsuitable.  An  experimental 
action,  generated  by  a  mind  as  empty  as  it  was  before  it  became  one,  thus 
in  accord  with  the  possibility  of  no  matter  what,  is,  on  the  other  hand,  prac- 
tical. It  does  not  move  in  terms  of  approximations  and  errors,  as  "informed" 
action  by  its  nature  must,  for  no  mental  images  of  what  would  happen  were 
set  up  beforehand;  it  sees  things  directly  as  they  are:  impermanently  in- 
volved in  an  infinite  play  of  interpenetrations.  Experimental  music— 

Question:  —in  the  U.S.A.,  if  you  please.  Be  more  specific.  What  do 
you  have  to  say  about  rhythm?  Let  us  agree  it  is  no  longer  a  question  of 
pattern,  repetition,  and  variation. 

Answer:  There  is  no  need  for  such  agreement.  Patterns,  repetitions, 
and  variations  will  arise  and  disappear.  However,  rhythm  is  durations  of 
any  length  coexisting  in  any  states  of  succession  and  synchronicity.  The 
latter  is  liveliest,  most  unpredictably  changing,  when  the  parts  are  not 
fixed  by  a  score  but  left  independent  of  one  another,  no  two  performances 
yielding  the  same  resultant  durations.  The  former,  succession,  liveliest 
when  (as  in  Morton  Feldman's  Intersections)  it  is  not  fixed  but  presented 
in  situation-form,  entrances  being  at  any  point  within  a  given  period  of 
time. — Notation  of  durations  is  in  space,  read  as  corresponding  to  time, 
needing  no  reading  in  the  case  of  magnetic  tape. 

Question:  What  about  several  players  at  once,  an  orchestra? 

Answer:  You  insist  upon  their  being  together?  Then  use,  as  Earle 
Brown  suggests,  a  moving  picture  of  the  score,  visible  to  all,  a  static  vertical 
line  as  coordinator,  past  which  the  notations  move.  If  you  have  no  particu- 
lar togetherness  in  mind,  there  are  chronometers.  Use  them. 

Question:  I  have  noticed  that  you  write  durations  that  are  beyond 
the  possibility  of  performance. 

Answer:  Composing's  one  thing,  performing's  another,  listening's  a 
third.  What  can  they  have  to  do  with  one  another? 


Question:  And  about  pitches? 

Answer:  It  is  true.  Music  is  continually  going  up  and  down,  but  no 
longer  only  on  those  stepping  stones,  five,  seven,  twelve  in  number,  or  the 
quarter  tones.  Pitches  are  not  a  matter  of  likes  and  dislikes  (  I  have  told 
you  about  the  diagram  Schillinger  had  stretched  across  his  wall  near  the 
ceiling:  all  the  scales,  Oriental  and  Occidental,  that  had  been  in  general 
use,  each  in  its  own  color  plotted  against,  no  one  of  them  identical  with,  a 
black  one,  the  latter  the  scale  as  it  would  have  been  had  it  been  physically 
based  on  the  overtone  series )  except  for  musicians  in  ruts;  in  the  face  of 
habits,  what  to  do?  Magnetic  tape  opens  the  door  providing  one  doesn't 
immediately  shut  it  by  inventing  a  phonogene,  or  otherwise  use  it  to  recall 
or  extend  known  musical  possibilities.  It  introduces  the  unknown  with  such 
sharp  clarity  that  anyone  has  the  opportunity  of  having  his  habits  blown 
away  like  dust. — For  this  purpose  the  prepared  piano  is  also  useful,  espe- 
cially in  its  recent  forms  where,  by  alterations  during  a  performance,  an 
otherwise  static  gamut  situation  becomes  changing.  Stringed  instruments 
(not  string-players)  are  very  instructive,  voices  too;  and  sitting  still  any- 
where ( the  stereophonic,  multiple-loud-speaker  manner  of  operation  in  the 
everyday  production  of  sounds  and  noises )  listening . . . 

Question  :  I  understand  Feldman  divides  all  pitches  into  high,  middle, 
and  low,  and  simply  indicates  how  many  in  a  given  range  are  to  be  played, 
leaving  the  choice  up  to  the  performer. 

Answer:  Correct.  That  is  to  say,  he  used  sometimes  to  do  so;  I  haven't 
seen  him  lately.  It  is  also  essential  to  remember  his  notation  of  super-  and 
subsonic  vibrations  ( Marginal  Intersection  No.  1 ) . 

Question:  That  is,  there  are  neither  divisions  of  the  "canvas"  nor 
"frame"  to  be  observed? 

Answer:  On  the  contrary,  you  must  give  the  closest  attention  to 
everything.  #  ^  ^ 

Question:  And  timbre? 

Answer:  No  wondering  what's  next.  Going  lively  on  "through  many  a 
perilous  situation."  Did  you  ever  listen  to  a  symphony  orchestra? 

*  *  * 

Question:  Dynamics? 

Answer:  These  result  from  what  actively  happens  (physically,  me- 


chanically,  electronically)  in  producing  a  sound.  You  won't  find  it  in  the 
books.  Notate  that.  As  far  as  too  loud  goes:  "follow  the  general  outlines  of 
the  Christian  life." 

Question:  I  have  asked  you  about  the  various  characteristics  of  a 
sound;  how,  now,  can  you  make  a  continuity,  as  I  take  it  your  intention  is, 
without  intention?  Do  not  memory,  psychology — 

Answer:  " — never  again." 

Question:  How? 

Answer:  Christian  Wolff  introduced  space  actions  in  his  composi- 
tional process  at  variance  with  the  subsequently  performed  time  actions. 
Earle  Brown  devised  a  composing  procedure  in  which  events,  following 
tables  of  random  numbers,  are  written  out  of  sequence,  possibly  anywhere 
in  a  total  time  now  and  possibly  anywhere  else  in  the  same  total  time  next. 
I  myself  use  chance  operations,  some  derived  from  the  I-Ching,  others  from 
the  observation  of  imperfections  in  the  paper  upon  which  I  happen  to  be 
writing.  Your  answer:  by  not  giving  it  a  thought. 

Question:  Is  this  athematic? 

Answer:  Who  said  anything  about  themes?  It  is  not  a  question  of 
having  something  to  say. 

Question:  Then  what  is  the  purpose  of  this  "experimental"  music? 

Answer:  No  purposes.  Sounds. 

Question:  Why  bother,  since,  as  you  have  pointed  out,  sounds  are 
continually  happening  whether  you  produce  them  or  not? 

Answer:  What  did  you  say?  I'm  still 

Question:  I  mean —  But  is  this  music? 

Answer:  Ah!  you  like  sounds  after  all  when  they  are  made  up  of 
vowels  and  consonants.  You  are  slow-witted,  for  you  have  never  brought 
your  mind  to  the  location  of  urgency.  Do  you  need  me  or  someone  else  to 
hold  you  up?  Why  don't  you  realize  as  I  do  that  nothing  is  accomplished 
by  writing,  playing,  or  listening  to  music?  Otherwise,  deaf  as  a  doornail, 
you  will  never  be  able  to  hear  anything,  even  what's  well  within  earshot. 

Question:  But,  seriously,  if  this  is  what  music  is,  I  could  write  it  as 
well  as  you. 

Answer:  Have  I  said  anything  that  would  lead  you  to  think  I  thought 
you  were  stupid? 


The  following  three  lectures  were  given  at  Darmstadt  (Germany)  in 
September  1958.  The  third  one,  with  certain  revisions,  is  a  lecture  given 
earlier  that  year  at  Rutgers  University  in  New  Jersey,  an  excerpt  from  which 
was  published  in  the  Village  Voice,  New  York  City,  in  April  1958. 

I.  Changes 

This  is  a  lec- 
ture on  changes 
that  have  taken 
place  in  my  com- 
position means, 
with  particu- 
lar reference 
to  what,  a  dec- 
ade ago,  I 

termed  "structure"  and 
"method."  By  "struc- 
ture" was  meant  the 
division  of 
a  whole  into 
parts;  by  "method," 
the  note-to-note 
procedure.  Both 
structure  and  meth- 
od ( and  also 


Having  been  asked  by  Dr.  Wolfgang  Steinecke,  Director  of  the  Internationale 
Ferienkurse  fiir  Neue  Musik  at  Darmstadt,  to  discuss  in  particular  my 
Music  of  Changes,  I  decided  to  make  a  lecture  within  the  time  length  of  the 
Music  of  Changes  (each  line  of  the  text  whether  speech  or  silence  requiring 
one  second  for  its  performance),  so  that  whenever  I  would  stop  speaking,  the 
corresponding  part  of  the  Music  of  Changes  itself  would  be  played.  The  music 
is  not  superimposed  on  the  speech  but  is  heard  only  in  the  interruptions  of 
the  speech— which,  like  the  lengths  of  the  paragraphs  themselves,  were  the 
result  of  chance  operations. 

the  sounds  and  si- 
lences of  a 

were,  it  seemed  to 
me  then,  the  prop- 
er concern  of 
the  mind  ( as  op- 
posed to  the  heart) 
( one's  ideas 
of  order  as 
opposed  to  one's 
actions ) ;  whereas 
the  two  last 

of  these,  namely 
method  and  ma- 
terial, to- 
gether with  form 
(the  morpholo- 
gy of  a  con- 
were  equally 
the  proper  con- 
cern of  the  heart. 
then,  I  viewed,  ten 
years  ago,  as 
an  activity  integrat- 
ing the  oppo- 
sites,  the  ration- 
al and  the  ir- 
rational, bring- 
ing about,  i- 

deally,  a 
freely  moving 
ty within  a 
strict  division 
of  parts,  the  sounds, 
their  combina- 
tion and  succes- 
sion being  ei- 
ther logical- 
ly related 
or  arbitrar- 
ily chosen. 
fThe  strict  divi- 
sion of  parts,  the 
structure,  was  a 
function  of  the 
duration  as- 
pect of  sound,  since, 

of  all  the  as- 
pects of  sound  in- 
cluding frequen- 
cy, amplitude, 
and  timbre,  dur- 
ation, alone, 
was  also  a 
tic of  silence. 
The  structure,  then, 
was  a  divi- 
sion of  actu- 
al time  by  con- 
ventional met- 
rical means,  me- 
ter taken  as 
simply  the  meas- 
urement of  quan- 
tity, fin  the 
case  of  the  So- 
natas and  In- 
terludes (which  I 
finished  in  nine- 
teen forty-eight ) , 
only  structure 
was  organized, 
quite  roughly  for 
the  work  as  a 
whole,  exactly, 
however,  with- 
in each  single 
piece.  The  method 
was  that  of  con- 
sidered impro- 
visation (main- 
ly at  the  pi- 

ano, though  i- 
deas  came  to 
me  at  some  mo- 
ments away  from 
the  instrument. 

The  materi- 
als, the  pia- 
no prepara- 
tions, were  chosen 
as  one  chooses 
shells  while  walking 

along  a  beach. 
The  form  was  as 
natural  as 
my  taste  permit- 
ted: so  that  where, 
as  in  all  of 
the  Sonatas 
and  two  of  the 
Interludes,  parts 
were  to  be  re- 
peated, the  for- 
mal concern  was 
to  make  the  prog- 
ress from  the  end 
of  a  section 
to  its  begin- 
ning seem  inev- 
itable. TfThe 
structure  of  one 
of  the  Sona- 
tas, the  fourth,  was 
one  hundred  meas- 
ures of  two-two 
time,  divided 
into  ten  u- 
nits  of  ten  meas- 

ures each.  These  u- 
nits  were  combined 
in  the  propor- 
tion three,  three,  two, 
two,  to  give  the 
piece  large  parts,  and 
they  were  subdi- 
vided in  the 
same  proportion 
to  give  small  parts 
to  each  unit. 
In  contrast  to 
a  structure  based 
on  the  frequen- 
cy aspect  of 
sound,  tonali- 
ty, that  is,  this 
rhythmic  structure 
was  as  hospi- 
table to  non- 
musical  sounds, 
noises,  as  it 
was  to  those  of 
the  convention- 
al scales  and  in- 
struments. For  noth- 
ing about  the 
structure  was  de- 
termined by  the 
which  were  to  oc- 
cur in  it;  it 
was  conceived,  in 
fact,  so  that  it 
could  be  as  well 
expressed  by  the 


absence  of  these 
as  by  their  pres- 
ence, flln  terms 
of  the  oppo- 
sition of  free- 
dom and  law,  a 
piece  written  ten 
years  before  the 
Sonatas  and 
Interludes,  Con- 
struction in  Met- 
al, presents  the 
same  relation- 
ship, but  reversed: 
structure,  method, 
and  materi- 
als were  all  of 
them  subjected 
to  organi- 
zation. The  mor- 
phology of 
the  continu- 
ity, form,  a- 
lone  was  free.  Draw- 
ing a  straight  line 
between  this  sit- 
uation and 
that  presented 

by  the  later 
work,  the  deduc- 
tion might  be  made 
that  there  is  a 
tendency  in 
my  composi- 
tion means  away 
from  ideas 
of  order  towards 
no  ideas 
of  order.  And 
though  when  exam- 
ined the  histo- 
ry would  probab- 
ly not  read  as 
a  straight  line,  re- 
cent works,  begin- 
ning with  the  Mu- 
sic of  Changes, 
support  the  ac- 
curacy of 

this  deduction. 
flFor,  in  the  Mu- 
sic of  Changes, 
the  note-to-note 
procedure^  the 
method,  is  the 
function  of  chance 
And  the  structure, 
though  planned  precise- 
ly as  those  of 
the  Sonatas 
and  Interludes, 
and  more  thorough- 
ly since  it  en- 
compassed the  whole 
span  of  the  com- 
position, was 
only  a  se- 
ries of  numbers, 
three,  five,  six  and 
three  quarters,  six 
and  three  quarters, 
five,  three  and  one 
eighth,  which  became, 
on  the  one  hand, 
the  number  of 
units  within 
each  section,  and, 
on  the  other, 
number  of  meas- 
ures of  four-four 
within  each  u- 
nit.  At  each  small 
structural  di- 
vision in  the 

Music  of  Chan- 
ges, at  the  be- 
ginning, for  ex- 
ample, and  a- 

gain  at  the  fourth 
and  ninth  measures 
and  so  on,  chance 
determined  sta- 
bility or 

change  of  tempo. 
Thus,  by  intro- 
ducing the  ac- 
tion of  method 
into  the  bod- 
y  of  the  struc- 
ture, and  these  two 
opposed  in  terms 
of  order  and 
freedom,  that  struc- 
ture became  in- 
it  was  not  pos- 
sible to  know  the 
total  time-length 
of  the  piece  un- 
til the  final 
chance  opera- 
tion, the  last  toss 
of  coins  af- 
fecting the  rate 
of  tempo,  had 
been  made.  Being 


nate, though  still  pres- 
ent, it  became 
apparent  that 
structure  was  not 
even  though  it  had 
certain  uses. 
flOne  of  these  u- 
ses  was  the  de- 
of  density, 
the  determi- 
nation, that  is, 
of  how  many 
of  the  poten- 
tially present 
eight  lines,  each  com- 
posed of  sounds  and 
silences,  were 
to  be  present 
within  a  giv- 
en small  structur- 
al part,  f  Anoth- 
er use  of  the 
structure  affect- 
ed the  charts  of 
sounds  and  silen- 
ces, amplitudes, 
durations,  po- 
tentially ac- 
tive in  the  con- 

These  twenty-four 
charts,  eight  for  sounds 

and  silences, 
eight  for  ampli- 
tudes, eight  for  du- 
rations, were,  through- 
out the  course  of 
a  single  struc- 
tural unit,  half 
of  them  mobile 
and  half  of  them 
immobile.  Mo- 
bile meant  that  once 
any  of  the 
elements  in 
a  chart  was  used 

it  disappeared 
to  be  replaced 
by  a  new  one. 
Immobile  meant 
that  though  an  el- 
ement in  a 
chart  had  been  used, 
it  remained  to 
be  used  again. 
At  each  unit 
structural  point, 
a  chance  oper- 
ation deter- 
mined which  of  the 
charts,  numbers  one, 
three,  five,  and  sev- 
en or  numbers 

two,  four,  six,  and 
eight,  were  mobile 
and  which  of  the 
charts  were  immo- 
bile—not changing. 

fJThe  structure,  there- 
fore, was  in  these 
respects  useful. 
Furthermore,  it 
determined  the 
beginning  and 


ending  of  the 
al process.  But 
this  process,  had 
it  in  the  end 
brought  about  a 
division  of 

parts  the  time-lengths 
of  which  were  pro- 
portional to 
the  origi- 
nal series  of 
numbers,  would  have 
been  extraordi- 
nary. And  the 
presence  of  the 
mind  as  a  rul- 
ing factor,  e- 
ven  by  such  an 
ry eventu- 
ality, would 
not  have  been  es- 
tablished. For  what 
happened  came  a- 
bout  only  through 
the  tossing  of 
coins,  fit  be- 
came clear,  therefore, 
I  repeat,  that 
structure  was  not 
And,  in  Music 
for  Piano, 
and  subsequent 
pieces,  indeed, 


structure  is  no 
longer  a  part 
of  the  compo- 
sition means.  The 
view  taken  is 
not  of  an  ac- 
tivity the 
purpose  of  which 
is  to  inte- 
grate the  oppo- 
sites,  but  rather 
of  an  activ- 
ity charac- 
terized by 
process  and  es- 

purposeless.  The 

mind,  though  stripped 
of  its  right  to 
control,  is  still 
present.  What  does 
it  do,  having 
nothing  to  do? 
And  what  happens 
to  a  piece  of 
music  when  it 
is  purposeless- 
ly made?  fWhat  hap- 
pens, for  instance, 
to  silence?  That 
is,  how  does  the 
mind's  perception 
of  it  change?  For- 
merly, silence 
was  the  time  lapse 
between  sounds,  use- 
ful towards  a  va- 
riety of 

ends,  among  them 
that  of  tasteful 
arrangement,  where 
by  separat- 
ing two  sounds  or 
two  groups  of  sounds 
their  differen- 
ces or  rela- 
tionships might  re- 
ceive emphasis; 
or  that  of  ex- 
where  silences 
in  a  musi- 
cal discourse  might 

provide  pause  or 
or  again,  that 
of  architec- 
ture, where  the  in- 
troduction or 
of  silence  might 
give  defini- 
tion either  to 
a  predeter- 
mined structure  or 
to  an  organ- 
ically de- 
veloping one. 
Where  none  of  these 
or  other  goals 
is  present,  si- 
lence becomes  some- 
thing else— not  si- 
lence at  all,  but 
sounds,  the  ambi- 
ent sounds.  The  na- 
ture of  these  is 
ble and  changing. 
These  sounds  ( which  are 

called  silence  on- 
ly because  they 
do  not  form  part 
of  a  musi- 
cal intention) 
may  be  depen- 
ded upon  to 
exist.  The  world 
teems  with  them,  and 
is,  in  fact,  at 
no  point  free  of 
them.  He  who  has 
entered  an  an- 
echoic  cham- 
ber, a  room  made 
as  silent  as 
cally possible, 
has  heard  there  two 
sounds,  one  high,  one 
low— the  high  the 
listener's  ner- 
vous system  in 
the  low  his  blood 
in  circula- 
tion. There  are,  dem- 
onstrably, sounds 
to  be  heard  and 
forever,  giv- 
en ears  to  hear. 
Where  these  ears  are 
in  connection 

with  a  mind  that 
has  nothing  to 
do,  that  mind  is 
free  to  enter 
into  the  act 
of  listening, 
hearing  each  sound 
just  as  it  is, 
not  as  a  phe- 
nomenon more 
or  less  approx- 
imating a 

ffWhat's  the  histo- 
ry of  the  chan- 
ges in  my  com- 
position means 
with  particu- 
lar reference 
to  sounds?  I  had 
in  mind  when  I 
chose  the  sounds  for 
Construction  in 
Metal  that  they 
should  be  sixteen 
for  each  player. 
The  number  six- 
teen was  also 
that  of  the  num- 
ber of  measures 

of  four-four  in 
each  unit  of 
the  rhythmic  struc- 
ture. In  the  case 
of  the  structure 
this  number  was 
divided  four, 
three,  two,  three,  four; 
in  the  case  of 
the  materi- 
als the  gamuts 
of  sixteen  sounds 
were  divided 
into  four  groups 
of  four.  The  plan, 
as  preconceived, 
was  to  use  four 
of  the  sounds  in 
the  first  sixteen 
measures,  intro- 
ducing in  each 
succeeding  struc- 
tural unit 
four  more  until 
the  exposi- 
tion involving 
all  sixteen  and 
lasting  through  the 
first  four  units 
was  completed. 
The  subsequent 
parts,  three,  two,  three, 
four,  were  composed 


as  develop- 
ment of  this  in- 
itial situ- 
ation. In  ac- 
this  simple  plan 

was  not  real- 
ized, although  it 
was  only  re- 
cently that  I 
became  fully 
aware  that  it 
was  not.  I  had 
known  all  along 
that  one  of  the 
players  used  three 
Japanese  tem- 
ple gongs  rather 
than  four,  but  the 
fact  that  only 
three  of  these  rel- 
atively rare 
instruments  were 
then  availa- 
ble to  me,  to- 
gether with  the 
attachment  I 
felt  towards  their  sound, 
had  convinced  me 
of  the  rightness 
of  this  change  in 
number.  More  se- 
rious, however, 
it  seems  to 
me  now,  was  the 
effect  of  beat- 
ers: playing  cow- 
bells first  with  rub- 
ber and  then  with 

metal  multi- 
plied by  two  the 
number  of  sounds 
used.  Sirenlike 
piano  trills 
which  sound  as  one 
were  counted  as 
two.  Various 
other  devi- 
ations from  the 

plan  could  be  dis- 
covered on  an- 
alysis: for 
instance,  the  ad- 
dition of  met- 
al thundersheets 
for  background  noise 
bringing  the  num- 
ber sixteen,  for 
those  players  who 
enjoyed  it 


to  seventeen. 
One  might  conclude 
that  in  compos- 
ing Construction 
in  Metal  the 
tion of  sounds  was 
realized.  Or 
he  might  conclude 
that  the  compos- 
er had  not  ac- 
tually lis- 
tened to  the  sounds 
he  used,  p  have 
already  com- 
pared the  selec- 
tion of  the  sounds 

for  the  Sona- 
tas and  Inter- 
ludes to  a  se- 
lection of  shells 
while  walking  a- 
long  a  beach.  They 
are  therefore  a 
collection  ex- 
hibiting taste. 
Their  number  was 
increased  by  use 
of  the  una 
corda,  this  ped- 
al bringing  a- 
bout  altera- 
tions of  timbre  and 
frequency  for 
many  of  the 
prepared  keys.  In 
terms  of  pitch,  how- 
ever, there  is 
no  change  from  the 
sounds  of  the  Con- 
struction. In  both 
cases  a  stat- 
ic gamut  of 
sounds  is  present- 
ed, no  two  oc- 
taves repeating 
relations.  How- 
ever, one  could 
hear  interest- 
ing differen- 
ces between  cer- 
tain of  these  sounds. 
On  depressing 

a  key,  sometimes 
a  single  fre- 
quency was  heard. 
In  other  cas- 
es depressing 
a  key  produced 
an  interval; 
in  still  others 
an  aggregate 
of  pitches  and 
timbres.  Noticing 
the  nature  of 
this  gamut  led 
to  selecting 
a  comparable 
one  for  the 
Spring  Quartet:  the 

inclusion  there 
of  rigidly 

scored  convention- 
al harmonies 
is  a  matter 
of  taste,  from  which 
a  conscious  con- 
trol was  absent. 
Before  writing 
the  Music  of 
Changes,  two  piec- 

es were  written 
which  also  used 
gamuts  of  sounds: 
single  sounds,  doub- 
le sounds  and  oth- 
ers more  numer- 
ous, some  to  be 
played  simultan- 
eously, oth- 
ers successive- 
ly in  time.  These 
pieces  were  Six- 
teen Dances  and 
Concerto  for 
Prepared  Pia- 
no and  Chamber 
Orchestra.  The 
elements  of 
the  gamuts  were 
arranged  unsys- 
in  charts  and 
the  method  of 
involved  moves  on 
these  charts  anal- 
agous  to  those 
used  in  construct- 
ing a  magic 
square.  Charts  were  al- 
so used  for  the 
Music  of  Chang- 
es, but  in  con- 
trast to  the  meth- 
od which  involved 
chance  opera- 


tions,  these  charts  were 
subjected  to 
a  rational 
control:  of  the 
sixty-four  el- 
ements in  a 

square  chart  eight  times 
eight  (made  in  this 
way  in  order 
to  interpret 
as  sounds  the  co- 
in oracle 
of  the  Chinese 
Book  of  Changes) 
thirty-two  were 
sounds,  thirty-two 
silences.  The 
thirty-two  sounds 
were  arranged  in 
two  squares  one  a- 
bove  the  other, 
each  four  by  four. 
Whether  the  charts 
were  mobile  or 
immobile,  all 
twelve  tones  were  pres- 
ent in  any 
four  elements 
of  a  given 
chart,  whether  a 
line  of  the  chart 
was  read  hori- 
zontally or 
Once  this  dodec- 
aphonic re- 

quirement was  sat- 
isfied, noises 
and  repeti- 
tions of  tones  were 
used  with  freedom. 

One  may  conclude 
from  this  that  in 
the  Music  of 
Changes  the  ef- 
fect of  the 
chance  operations 
on  the  structure 

(making  very 
apparent  its 
tic character) 

was  balanced  by 
a  control  of 
the  materials. 
Charts  remain  in 
the  Imagi- 
nary Landscape 
Number  TV,  and 
in  the  Williams 

Mix,  but,  due  to 
the  radios 
of  the  first  piece 
and  the  librar- 
y  of  record- 
ed sounds  of  the 
second,  and  for 
no  other  rea- 
son, no  twelve-tone 
control  was  used. 
The  question  "How 
do  we  need  to 
cautiously  pro- 
ceed in  dual- 
istic  terms?"  was 
not  consciously 
answered  until 
the  Music  for 
Piano.  In 

that  piece  notes  were 
determined  by 
in  the  paper 
upon  which  the 
music  was  writ- 
ten. The  number 
of  imperfec- 
tions was  deter- 
mined by  chance. 


The  origi- 
nal notation 
is  in  ink,  and 
the  actual 
steps  that  were  tak- 
en in  compo- 
sition have  been 
described  in  an 
article  in 

Die  Reihe.  flThough 
in  the  Music 
for  Piano 
I  have  affirmed 
the  absence  of 
the  mind  as  a 
ruling  agent 
from  the  structure 
and  method  of  the 
means,  its  presence 
with  regard  to 
is  made  clear  on 

the  sounds  themselves: 
they  are  only 
single  tones  of 
the  convention- 
al grand  pia- 

no, played  at  the 
keyboard,  plucked  or 
muted  on  the 
strings,  together 
with  noises  in- 
side or  outside 
the  piano 
construction.  The 
limited  na- 
ture of  this  u- 
niverse  of  pos- 

makes  the  events 
themselves  compa- 
rable to  the 
first  attempts  at 
speech  of  a  child 
or  the  fumblings 
about  of  a 

blind  man.  The  mind 
reappears  as 
the  agent  which 
established  the 
boundaries  with- 
in which  this  small 
play  took  place.  Some- 
thing more  far-reach- 
ing is  neces- 
sary: a  com- 
posing of  sounds 
within  a  u- 
niverse  predi- 
cated upon  the 
sounds  themselves 


rather  than  up- 
on the  mind  which 
can  envisage 
their  coming  in- 
to being,  f  Sounds, 
as  we  know,  have 
frequency,  am- 
plitude, dura- 
tion, timbre,  and  in 
a  composi- 
tion, an  order 
of  succession. 
Five  lines  repre- 
senting these  five 
tics may  be  drawn 

in  India  ink 
upon  trans- 
parent plastic 
squares.  Upon  an- 
other such  square 
a  point  may  be 
inscribed.  Placing 
the  square  with  the 
lines  over  the 
square  with  the  point, 
a  determi- 
nation may  be 
made  as  to  the 
physical  na- 
ture of  a  sound 

and  its  place  with- 
in a  deter- 
mined program  sim- 
ply by  dropping 
a  perpendi- 
cular from  the 
point  to  the  line 
and  measuring 
according  to 
any  method 
of  measurement. 
Larger  points  will 
have  the  meaning 
of  intervals 
and  largest  points 
that  of  aggre- 
gates. In  order 
to  make  the  sev- 
eral measure- 
ments necessar- 
y  for  inter- 
vals and  aggre- 
gates, further  squares 
having  five  lines 
are  made  and  the 
meaning  of  an- 
y  of  the  lines 
is  left  unde- 
termined, so  that 
a  given  one 
refers  to  an- 
y  of  the  five 
tics. These  squares  are 
square  so  that  they 
may  be  used  in 

any  posi- 
tion with  respect 
to  one  anoth- 
er. This  describes 
the  situa- 
tion obtaining 

in  a  recent 
the  composing 
means  itself  one 
of  the  eighty- 
four  occurring 
in  the  part  for 
piano  of 
Concert  for  Pi- 

ano and  Or- 
chestra. In  this 
the  universe 
within  which  the 
action  is  to 
take  place  is  not 
preconceived.  Fur- 
thermore, as  we 
know,  sounds  are  e- 
vents  in  a  field 
of  possibil- 
ities, not  on- 
ly at  the  dis- 
crete points  conven- 
tions have  favored. 
The  notation 
of  Varia- 
tions departs  from 
music  and  im- 
itates the  phys- 
ical real- 
ity, pt  is 
now  my  inten- 
tion to  relate 
the  history 
of  the  changes 
with  regard  to 
duration  of 
sounds  in  my  com- 
posing means.  Be- 
yond the  fact  that 
in  the  Construc- 
tion in  Metal 
there  was  a  con- 
trol of  dura- 


tion  patterns  par- 
allel to  that 
of  the  number 
of  sounds  chosen, 
nothing  uncon- 
ventional took 
place.  Quantities 
related  through 
tion by  two  or 
addition  of 
one-half  togeth- 
er with  grupet- 
tos  of  three,  five, 
seven,  and  nine 
were  present.  The 
same  holds  for  the 
Sonatas  and 
Interludes,  though 
no  rhythmic  pat- 
terns were  ration- 
ally controlled. 
In  the  String  Quar- 
tet the  rhythmic 
interest  drops, 
movements  being 
nearly  charac- 
terized by  the 
of  a  single 
quantity.  Not 
until  the  Mu- 
sic of  Changes 
do  the  quantities 
and  their  no- 
tation change.  They 

are  there  measured 
in  space,  a  quar- 
ter note  equal- 
ling two  and  one- 
half  centime- 
ters. This  made  pos- 
sible the  no- 
tation of  a 
fraction,  for  ex- 
ample one-third 
of  an  eighth,  with- 
out the  neces- 
sity of  no- 
tating  the  re- 
mainder of  the 
fraction,  the  re- 
maining two-thirds, 
following  the 
same  example. 
This  possibil- 
ity is  di- 
rectly anal- 
ogous to  the 
practice  of  cut- 
ting magnetic 
tape.  In  the  du- 
ration charts  of 
the  Music  of 
Changes  there  were 
sixty-four  el- 
ements, all  of 
them  durations 
since  they  were  both 


to  sound  and  si- 
lence ( each  of  which 
had  thirty-two 
elements ) .  These 
were  segmented 
( for  example 
one-half  plus  one- 
third  of  an  eighth 
plus  six-sevenths 
of  a  quarter) 
and  were  expres- 
sible wholly 
or  in  part.  This 
was  a  practi- 
cal measure  tak- 
en to  avoid 
the  writing  of 
an  impossi- 
ble situa- 
tion which  might  a- 
rise  during  a 
high  density 
structural  a- 
rea  due  to 
the  chance  oper- 

ations. fThe  same 
of  durations 
took  place  in  the 
Williams  Mix,  since 
a  maximum 
of  eight  machines 
and  loudspeakers 
had  been  pre-es- 
tablished. When  the 
density  rose 
from  one  to  six- 
teen, it  was  of- 
ten necessar- 
y  to  express 
durations  by 
their  smallest  parts, 
there  being  no 
room  left  on  the 
tape  for  the  larg- 
er segments.  flEx- 
act  measurement 
and  notation 

of  durations 
is  in  real- 
ity mental: 

y  exacti- 
tude. In  the  case 
of  tape,  many 


enter  which  ev- 
er so  slightly, 
but  nonetheless 
profoundly,  al- 
ter the  inten- 
tion ( even  though 
it  was  only 
the  carrying  out 
of  an  action 
by  chance  oper- 
ations ) .  Some  of 
these  circumstan- 
ces are  the  ef- 
fects of  weather 
upon  the  ma- 
terial; others 
follow  from  hu- 
man frailty— 
the  inabil- 
ity to  read 
a  ruler  and 
make  a  cut  at 
a  given  point- 
still  others  are 
due  to  mechan- 
ical causes, 
eight  machines  not 
running  at  pre- 
cisely the  same 
speed.  flGiven  these 
one  might  be  in- 
spired towards  greater 
heights  of  dura- 


tion  control  or 

he  might  renounce 
the  need  to  con- 
trol durations 
at  all.  In  Mu- 
sic for  Pia- 
no I  took  the 
latter  course.  Struc- 
ture no  longer 
being  present, 
that  piece  took  place 
in  any  length 
of  time  whatso- 
ever, accord- 
ing to  the  ex- 
igencies of 
an  occasion. 
The  duration 
of  single  sounds 
was  therefore  al- 
so left  inde- 
terminate. The 
notation  took 
the  form  of  whole 
notes  in  space,  the 
space  suggesting 
but  not  measur- 
ing time.  Noises 
were  crotchets  with- 
out stems.  flWhen  a 

performance  of 
Music  for  Pi- 
ano involves 
more  than  one  pi- 
anist, as  it 
may  from  two  to 
twenty,  the  suc- 
cession of  sounds 
becomes  complete- 
ly indeter- 
minate. Though  each 
page  is  read  from 
left  to  right  con- 
the  combina- 
tion is  unpre- 
dictable in 
terms  of  succes- 
sion. fThe  histo- 
ry of  changes 
with  reference 
to  timbre  is  short. 
In  the  Construc- 
tion in  Metal 
four  sounds  had  a 
single  timbre;  while 
the  prepared  pi- 
ano of  the 
Sonatas  and 
Interludes  pro- 
vided by  its 
nature  a  klang- 
die.  This  inter- 
est in  changing 
timbres  is  evi- 

dent in  the  String 
Quartet.  But  this 
matter  of  tim- 
bre, which  is  large- 
ly a  question 
of  taste,  was  first 

changed  for  me  in 
the  Imagi- 
nary Landscape 
Number  IV.  I 
had,  I  confess, 
never  enjoyed 
the  sound  of  ra- 
dios. This  piece 
opened  my  ears 

to  them,  and  was 
a  giving  up 
of  personal 
taste  about  timbre. 
I  now  frequent- 
ly compose  with 
the  radio 

turned  on,  and  my 
friends  are  no  long- 
er embarrassed 
when  visiting 
them  I  inter- 
rupt their  recep- 
tions. Several 
other  kinds  of 
sound  have  been  dis- 
tasteful to  me: 
the  works  of  Bee- 

thoven,  Ital- 
ian bel  can- 
to, jazz,  and  the 
vibraphone.  I 
used  Beethoven 
in  the  Williams 
Mix,  jazz  in  the 
y  Landscape  Num- 
ber V,  bel can- 
to in  the  re- 
cent part  for  voice 
in  the  Concert 
for  Piano 
and  Orchestra. 
It  remains  for 
me  to  come  to 
terms  with  the  vib- 
raphone. In  oth- 
er words,  I  find 
my  taste  for  timbre 

lacking  in  ne- 
cessity, and 
I  discover 
that  in  the  pro- 
portion I  give 
it  up,  I  find 
I  hear  more  and 
more  accurate- 

ly. Beethoven 
now  is  a  sur- 
prise, as  accept- 
able to  the 
ear  as  a  cow- 
bell. What  are  the 
orchestral  timbres 
of  the  Concert 
for  Piano 
and  Orchestra? 
It  is  impos- 
sible to  pre- 
dict, but  this  may 
be  said:  they  in- 
vite the  timbres  of 
jazz,  which  more  than 
serious  music 
has  explored  the 
ties of  instru- 
ments. flWith  tape  and 
sizers, action 
with  the  over- 
tone structure  of 
sounds  can  be  less 
a  matter  of 
taste  and  more  thor- 
oughly an  ac- 
tion in  a  field 
of  possibil- 
ities. The  no- 
tation I  have 
described  for  Var- 
iations deals 
with  it  as  such. 

f[The  early  works 
have  beginnings, 
middles,  and  end- 
ings. The  later 
ones  do  not.  They 
begin  any- 
where, last  any 
length  of  time,  and 
involve  more  or 
fewer  instru- 
ments and  players. 
They  are  therefore 
not  preconceived 
objects,  and  to 
approach  them  as 
objects  is  to 
utterly  miss 

occasions  for 
and  this  exper- 
ience is  not 
only  received 
by  the  ears  but 
by  the  eyes  too. 
An  ear  alone 
is  not  a  be- 
ing. I  have  no- 
ticed listening 
to  a  record 

that  my  attention 
moves  to  a 
moving  object 
or  a  play  of 
light,  and  at  a 
rehearsal  of 
the  Williams  Mix 
last  May  when  all 
eight  machines  were 
in  opera- 
tion the  atten- 
tion of  those  pres- 
ent was  engaged 
by  a  sixty- 
year-old  pian- 
o  tuner  who 
was  busy  tun- 
ing the  instru- 
ment for  the  eve- 
ning's concert.  It 
becomes  evi- 
the  point.  They  are  dent  that  music 


itself  is  an 
ideal  sit- 
uation, not 
a  real  one.  The 
mind  may  be  used 
either  to  ig- 
nore ambient 
sounds,  pitches  oth- 
er than  the  eight- 
y-eight, dura- 
tions which  are  not 
counted,  timbres  which 
are  unmusi- 
cal or  distaste- 
ful, and  in  gen- 
eral to  con- 
trol and  under- 
stand an  avail- 
able exper- 
ience. Or  the 
mind  may  give  up 
its  desire  to 
improve  on  cre- 
ation and  func- 
tion as  a  faith- 
ful receiver 
of  experi- 
ence. P  have  not 
yet  told  any 
stories  and  yet 
when  I  give  a 
talk  I  gener- 
ally do.  The 
subject  certain- 
ly suggests  my 
telling  something 



but  my  inclin- 
ation is  to 
tell  something  apt. 
That  reminds  me: 
Several  years 
ago  I  was 
present  at  a 
lecture  given 
by  Dr.  Dai- 
setz  Teitaro 
Suzuki.  He 
spoke  quietly 
when  he  spoke.  Some- 
times, as  I  was 
telling  a  friend 
yesterday  eve- 
ning, an  airplane 

would  pass  over- 
head. The  lecture 
was  at  Colum- 
bia Uni- 
versity and 
the  campus  is 
directly  in 
line  with  the  de- 
parture from  La 
Guardia  of 
planes  bound  for  the 
west.  When  the  wea- 
ther was  good,  the 
windows  were  o- 
pen:  a  plane 
passing  above  drowned 
out  Dr.  Dai- 
setz  Teitaro 
Suzuki.  Nev- 
ertheless, he 
never  raised  his 
voice,  never  paused, 
and  never  in- 
formed his  listen- 
ers of  what  they 
missed  of  the  lec- 
ture, and  no  one 
ever  asked  him 
what  he  had  said 
while  the  airplanes 
passed  above.  Any- 

way, he  was 
explaining  one 
day  the  meaning 
of  a  Chinese 
character— Yu, 
I  believe  it 
was— spending  the 
whole  time  explain- 
ing it  and  yet 
its  meaning  as 
close  as  he  could 
get  to  it  in 
English  was  "un- 
Finally  he 

laughed  and  then  said, 
"Isn't  it  strange 
that  having  come 
all  the  way  from 
Japan  I  spend 
my  time  explain- 
ing to  you  that 
which  is  not  to 
be  explained?"  f  That 
was  not  the  stor- 
y  I  was  go- 
ing to  tell  when 
I  first  thought  I 
would  tell  one,  but 
it  reminds  me 
of  another. 

Years  ago  when 
I  was  study- 
ing with  Arnold 
Schoenberg  someone 
asked  him  to  ex- 
plain his  technique 
of  twelve-tone  com- 
position. His 
reply  was  im- 
mediate: "That 
is  none  of  your 
business."  f  Now 
I  remember 
the  story  I 
was  going  to 
tell  when  I  first 
got  the  ide- 
a  to  tell  one. 
I  hope  I  can 
tell  it  well.  Sev- 
eral men,  three 
as  a  matter  of 
fact,  were  out 
walking  one  day, 
and  as  they  were 
walking  along 
and  talking  one 
of  them  noticed 
another  man 
standing  on  a 
hill  ahead  of 
them.  He  turned  to 
his  friends  and  said, 
"Why  do  you  think 
that  man  is  stand- 
ing up  there  on 

that  hill?"  One  said, 
"He  must  be  up 
there  because  it's 
cooler  there  and 
he's  enjoying 
the  breeze."  He  turned 
to  another 
and  repeated 
his  question,  "Why 
do  you  think  that 
man's  standing  up 
there  on  that  hill?" 
The  second  said, 
"Since  the  hill  is 
above  the  rest 
of  the  land,  he 
must  be  up  there 
in  order  to 
see  something  in 
the  distance."  And 
the  third  said,  "He 
must  have  lost  his 
friend  and  that  is 
why  he  is  stand- 
ing there  alone 
on  that  hill."  Af- 
ter some  time  walk- 
ing along,  the 
men  came  up  the 
hill  and  the  one 
who  had  been  stand- 
ing there  was  still 
there:  standing  there. 

They  asked  him  to 
say  which  one  was 
right  concerning 
his  reason  for 
standing  where  he 
was  standing.  fl"What 
reasons  do  you 
have  for  my  stand- 
ing here?"  he  asked. 
"We  have  three,"  they 
answered.  "First,  you 
are  standing  up 
here  because  it's 
cooler  here  and 
you  are  enjoy- 
ing the  breeze.  Second, 
since  the  hill 
is  eleva- 
ted above  the 
rest  of  the  land, 
you  are  up  here 
in  order  to 

see  something  in 
the  distance.  Third, 
you  have  lost  your 
friend  and  that  is 
why  you  are  stand- 
ing here  alone 
on  this  hill.  We 
have  walked  this  way; 
we  never  meant 
to  climb  this  hill; 
now  we  want  an 


answer:  Which  one 
of  us  is  right?" 
f  The  man  answered, 
"I  just  stand."  flWhen 
I  was  studying 
with  Schoenberg 
one  day  as  he  was 
writing  some 
counterpoint  to 
show  the  way  to 
do  it,  he  used 
an  eraser. 
And  then  while  he 
was  doing  this 

he  said,  "This  end 
of  the  pencil 
is  just  as  im- 
portant as  the 
other  end."  I 
have  several 
times  in  the  course 
of  this  lecture 
mentioned  ink.  Com- 
posing, if  it 
is  writing  notes, 
is  then  actu- 


ally  writing, 
and  the  less  one 
thinks  it's  tliinking 
the  more  it  be- 
comes what  it  is: 
writing.  Could  mu- 
sic be  composed 
( I  do  not  mean 
improvised)  not 
writing  it  in 
pencil  or  ink? 

The  answer  is 
no  doubt  Yes  and 
the  changes  in 
writing  are  pro- 
phetic. The  So- 
natas and  In- 
terludes were  com- 
posed by  playing 
the  piano, 
listening  to 
making  a  choice, 
roughly  writing 
it  in  pencil; 
later  this  sketch 

was  copied,  but 
again  in  pen- 
cil. Finally 
an  ink  manuscript 
was  made  care- 
fully. The  Mu- 
sic of  Changes 
was  composed  in 
almost  the  same 
way.  With  one  change: 
the  origi- 
nal pencil  sketch 
was  made  exact- 
ly, an  era- 
ser used  whenev- 
er necessar- 
y,  elimin- 
ating the  need 
for  a  neat  pen- 
cil copy.  In 
the  case  of  the 
y  Landscape  Num- 
ber IV,  the  first 
step  of  playing 
the  instrument 
was  elimin- 
ated. The  oth- 
ers kept.  Music 
for  Piano 
was  written  di- 
rectly in  ink. 

The  excessively  small  type  in  the  following  pages  is  an  attempt  to  emphasize 
the  intentionally  pontifical  character  of  this  lecture. 

II.  Indeterminacy 

This  is  a  lecture  on  composition  which  is  indeterminate  with  respect  to  its  performance.  The  Klavierstiick  XI  by 
Karlheinz  Stockhausen  is  an  example.  The  Art  of  the  Fugue  by  Johann  Sebastian  Bach  is  an  example.  In  The  Art 
of  the  Fugue,  structure,  which  is  the  division  of  the  whole  into  parts;  method,  which  is  the  note-to-note  procedure; 
and  form,  which  is  the  expressive  content,  the  morphology  of  the  continuity,  are  all  determined.  Frequency  and 
duration  characteristics  of  the  material  are  also  determined.  Timbre  and  amplitude  characteristics  of  the  material, 
by  not  being  given,  are  indeterminate.  This  mdeterminacy  brings  about  the  possibility  of  a  unique  overtone  struc- 
ture and  decibel  range  for  each  performance  of  The  Art  of  the  Fugue.  In  the  case  of  the  Klavierstiick  XI,  all  the 
characteristics  of  the  material  are  determined,  and  so  too  is  the  note-to-note  procedure,  the  method.  The  division 
of  the  whole  into  parts,  the  structure,  is  determinate.  The  sequence  of  these  parts,  however,  is  indeterminate, 
bringing  about  the  possibility  of  a  unique  form,  which  is  to  say  a  unique  morphology  of  the  continuity,  a  unique 
expressive  content,  for  each  performance. 

The  function  of  the  performer,  in  the  case  of  The  Art  of  the  Fugue,  is  comparable  to  that  of  someone  filling 
in  color  where  outlines  are  given.  He  may  do  this  in  an  organized  way  which  may  be  subjected  successfully  to 
analysis.  (Transcriptions  by  Arnold  Schoenberg  and  Anton  Webern  give  examples  pertinent  to  this  century.)  Or 
he  may  perform  his  function  of  colorist  in  a  way  which  is  not  consciously  organized  ( and  therefore  not  subject  to 
analysis)— either  arbitrarily,  feeling  his  way,  following  the  dictates  of  his  ego;  or  more  or  less  unknowingly,  by 
going  inwards  with  reference  to  the  structure  of  his  mind  to  a  point  in  dreams,  following,  as  in  automatic  writing, 
the  dictates  of  his  subconscious  mind;  or  to  a  point  in  the  collective  unconscious  of  Jungian  psychoanalysis,  fol- 
lowing the  inclinations  of  the  species  and  doing  something  of  more  or  less  universal  interest  to  human  beings;  or 
to  the  "deep  sleep"  of  Indian  mental  practice— the  Ground  of  Meister  Eckhart— identifying  there  with  no  matter 
what  eventuality.  Or  he  may  perform  his  function  of  colorist  arbitrarily,  by  going  outwards  with  reference  to  the 
structure  of  his  mind  to  the  point  of  sense  perception,  following  his  taste;  or  more  or  less  unknowingly  by  employ- 
ing some  operation  exterior  to  his  mind:  tables  of  random  numbers,  following  the  scientific  interest  in  probability; 
or  chance  operations,  identifying  there  with  no  matter  what  eventuality 

The  function  of  the  performer  in  the  case  of  the  Klavierstiick  XI  is  not  that  of  a  colorist  but  that  of  giving 
form,  providing,  that  is  to  say,  the  morphology  of  the  continuity,  the  expressive  content.  This  may  not  be  done  in 
an  organized  way:  for  form  unvitalized  by  spontaneity  brings  about  the  death  of  all  the  other  elements  of  the  work. 
Examples  are  provided  by  academic  studies  which  copy  models  with  respect  to  all  their  compositional  elements: 
structure,  method,  material,  and  form.  On  the  other  hand,  no  matter  how  rigorously  controlled  or  conventional  the 
structure,  method,  and  materials  of  a  composition  are,  that  composition  will  come  to  life  if  the  form  is  not  con- 
trolled but  free  and  original.  One  may  cite  as  examples  the  sonnets  of  Shakespeare  and  the  haikus  of  Basho.  How 
then  in  the  case  of  the  Klavierstiick  XI  may  the  performer  fulfill  his  function  of  giving  form  to  the  music?  He 
must  perform  his  function  of  giving  form  to  the  music  in  a  way  which  is  not  consciously  organized  ( and  therefore 
not  subject  to  analysis),  either  arbitrarily,  feeling  his  way,  following  the  dictates  of  his  ego,  or  more  or  less 
unknowingly,  by  going  inwards  with  reference  to  the  structure  of  his  mind  to  a  point  in  dreams,  following,  as  in 
automatic  writing,  the  dictates  of  his  subconscious  mind;  or  to  a  point  in  the  collective  unconscious  of  Jungian 
psychoanalysis,  following  the  inclinations  of  the  species  and  doing  something  of  more  or  less  universal  interest  to 
human  beings;  or  to  the  "deep  sleep"  of  Indian  mental  practice— the  Ground  of  Meister  Eckhart— identifying  there 
with  no  matter  what  eventuality.  Or  he  may  perform  his  function  of  giving  form  to  the  music  arbitrarily,  by  going 


outwards  with  reference  to  the  structure  of  his  mind  to  the  point  of  sense  perception,  following  his  taste;  or  more 
or  less  unknowingly  by  employing  some  operation  exterior  to  his  mind:  tables  of  random  numbers,  following  the 
scientific  interest  in  probability;  or  chance  operations,  identifying  there  with  no  matter  what  eventuality. 

However,  due  to  the  presence  in  the  Klavierstuck  XI  of  the  two  most  essentially  conventional  aspects  of 
European  music— that  is  to  say,  the  twelve  tones  of  the  octave  (the  frequency  characteristic  of  the  material)  and 
regularity  of  beat  (affecting  the  element  of  method  in  the  composing  means),  the  performer— in  those  instances 
where  his  procedure  follows  any  dictates  at  all  (his  feelings,  his  automatism,  his  sense  of  universality,  his  taste)— 
will  be  led  to  give  the  form  aspects  essentially  conventional  to  European  music.  These  instances  will  predominate 
over  those  which  are  unknowing  where  the  performer  wishes  to  act  in  a  way  consistent  with  the  composition  as 
written.  The  form  aspects  essentially  conventional  to  European  music  are,  for  instance,  the  presentation  of  a 
whole  as  an  object  in  time  having  a  beginning,  a  middle,  and  an  ending,  progressive  rather  than  static  in  character, 
which  is  to  say  possessed  of  a  climax  or  climaxes  and  in  contrast  a  point  or  points  of  rest. 

The  indeterminate  aspects  of  the  composition  of  the  Klavierstuck  XI  do  not  remove  the  work  in  its  per- 
formance from  the  body  of  European  musical  conventions.  And  yet  the  purpose  of  indeterminacy  would  seem  to 
be  to  bring  about  an  unforseen  situation.  In  the  case  of  Klavierstuck  XI,  the  use  of  indeterminacy  is  in  this  sense 
unnecessary  since  it  is  ineffective.  The  work  might  as  well  have  been  written  in  all  of  its  aspects  determinately. 
It  would  lose,  in  this  case,  its  single  unconventional  aspect:  that  of  being  printed  on  an  unusually  large  sheet  of 
paper  which,  together  with  an  attachment  that  may  be  snapped  on  at  several  points  enabling  one  to  stretch  it  out 
flat  and  place  it  on  the  music  rack  of  a  piano,  is  put  in  a  cardboard  tube  suitable  for  safekeeping  or  distribution 
through  die  mails. 

This  is  a  lecture  on  composition  which  is  indeterminate  with  respect  to  its  performance.  The  Intersection  3  by 
Morton  Feldman  is  an  example.  The  Music  of  Changes  is  not  an  example.  -In  the  Music  of  Changes,  structure, 
which  is  the  division  of  the  whole  into  parts;  method,  which  is  the  note-to-note  procedure;  form,  which  is  the 
expressive  content,  the  morphology  of  the  continuity;  and  materials,  the  sounds  and  silences  of  the  composition,  are 
all  determined.  Though  no  two  performances  of  the  Music  of  Changes  will  be  identical  ( each  act  is  virgin,  even 
the  repeated  one,  to  refer  to  Rene  Char's  thought),  two  performances  will  resemble  one  another  closely.  Though 
chance  operations  brought  about  the  determinations  of  the  composition,  these  operations  are  not  available  in  its 
performance.  The  function  of  the  performer  in  the  case  of  the  Music  of  Changes  is  that  of  a  contractor  who,  fol- 
lowing an  architect's  blueprint,  constructs  a  building.  That  the  Music  of  Changes  was  composed  by  means  of 
chance  operations  identifies  the  composer  with  no  matter  what  eventuality.  But  that  its  notation  is  in  all  respects 
determinate  does  not  permit  the  performer  any  such  identification:  his  work  is  specifically  laid  out  before  him.  He 
is  therefore  not  able  to  perform  from  his  own  center  but  must  identify  himself  insofar  as  possible  with  the  center  of 
the  work  as  written.  The  Music  of  Changes  is  an  object  more  inhuman  than  human,  since  chance  operations 
brought  it  into  being.  The  fact  that  these  things  that  constitute  it,  though  only  sounds,  have  come  together  to 
control  a  human  being,  the  performer,  gives  the  work  the  alarming  aspect  of  a  Frankenstein  monster.  This  situation 
is  of  course  characteristic  of  Western  music,  the  masterpieces  of  which  are  its  most  frightening  examples,  which 
when  concerned  with  humane  communication  only  move  over  from  Frankenstein  monster  to  Dictator. 

In  the  case  of  the  Intersection  3  by  Morton  Feldman,  structure  may  be  viewed  as  determinate  or  as  indeter- 
minate; method  is  definitely  indeterminate.  Frequency  and  duration  characteristics  of  the  material  are  determi- 
nate only  within  broad  limits  ( they  are  with  respect  to  narrow  limits  indeterminate ) ;  the  timbre  characteristic  of  the 
material,  being  given  by  the  instrument  designated,  the  piano,  is  determinate;  the  amplitude  characteristic  of 
the  material  is  indeterminate.  Form  conceived  in  terms  of  a  continuity  of  various  weights— that  is,  a  continuity  of 
numbers  of  sounds,  the  sounds  themselves  particularized  only  with  respect  to  broad  range  limits  ( high,  middle,  and 
low )  —is  determinate,  particularly  so  due  to  the  composer's  having  specified  boxes  as  time  units.  Though  one  might 
equally  describe  it  as  indeterminate  for  other  reasons.  The  term  "boxes"  arises  from  the  composer's  use  of  graph 
paper  for  the  notation  of  his  composition.  The  function  of  the  box  is  comparable  to  that  of  a  green  light  in  metropolitan 
thoroughfare  control.  The  performer  is  free  to  play  the  given  number  of  sounds  in  the  range  indicated  at  any  time 
during  the  duration  of  the  box,  just  as  when  driving  an  automobile  one  may  cross  an  intersection  at  any  time  during 
the  green  light.  With  the  exception  of  method,  which  is  wholly  indeterminate,  the  compositional  means  are  char- 
acterized by  being  in  certain  respects  determinate,  in  others  indeterminate,  and  an  interpenetration  of  these  opposites 
obtains  which  is  more  characteristic  than  either.  The  situation  is  therefore  essentially  non-dualistic;  a  multiplicity  of 
centers  in  a  state  of  non-obstruction  and  interpenetration. 

The  function  of  the  performer  in  the  case  of  the  Intersection  3  is  that  of  a  photographer  who  on  obtaining  a 
camera  uses  it  to  take  a  picture.  The  composition  permits  an  infinite  number  of  these,  and,  not  being  mechanically 
constructed,  it  will  not  wear  out.  It  can  only  suffer  disuse  or  loss.  How  is  the  performer  to  perform  the  Intersection  3? 
He  may  do  this  in  an  organized  way  which  may  be  subjected  successfully  to  analysis.  Or  he  may  perform  his 
function  of  photographer  in  a  way  which  is  not  consciously  organized  (and  therefore  not  subject  to  analysis)— 
either  arbitrarily,  feeling  his  way,  following  the  dictates  of  his  ego;  or  more  or  less  unknowingly,  by  going  inwards 
with  reference  to  the  structure  of  his  mind  to  a  point  in  dreams,  following,  as  in  automatic  writing,  the  dictates 
of  his  subconscious  mind;  or  to  a  point  in  the  collective  unconsciousness  of  Jungian  pyschoanalysis,  following  the 
inclinations  of  the  species  and  doing  something  of  more  or  less  universal  interest  to  human  beings;  or  to  the  '  deep 


sleep"  of  Indian  mental  practice— the  Ground  of  Meister  Eckhart— identifying  there  with  no  matter  what  even- 
tuality. Or  he  may  perform  his  function  of  photographer  arbitrarily,  by  going  outwards  with  reference  to  the 
structure  of  his  mind  to  the  point  of  sense  perception,  following  his  taste;  or  more  or  less  unknowingly  by  employ- 
ing some  operation  exterior  to  his  mind:  tables  of  random  numbers,  following  the  scientific  interest  in  probability; 
or  chance  operations,  identifying  there  with  no  matter  what  eventuality. 

One  evening  Morton  Feldman  said  that  when  he  composed  he  was  dead;  this  recalls  to  me  the  statement  of 
my  father,  an  inventor,  who  says  he  does  his  best  work  when  he  is  sound  asleep.  The  two  suggest  the  "deep  sleep" 
of  Indian  mental  practice.  The  ego  no  longer  blocks  action.  A  fluency  obtains  which  is  characteristic  of  nature. 
The  seasons  make  the  round  of  spring,  summer,  fall,  and  winter,  interpreted  in  Indian  thought  as  creation,  preser- 
vation, destruction,  and  quiescence.  Deep  sleep  is  comparable  to  quiescence.  Each  spring  brings  no  matter  what 
eventuality.  The  performer  then  will  act  in  any  way.  Whether  he  does  so  in  an  organized  way  or  in  any  one  of  the 
not  consciously  organized  ways  cannot  be  answered  until  his  action  is  a  reality.  The  nature  of  the  composition  and 
the  knowledge  of  the  composer's  own  view  of  his  action  suggest,  indeed,  that  the  performer  act  sometimes  con- 
sciously, sometimes  not  consciously  and  from  the  Ground  of  Meister  Eckhart,  identifying  there  with  no  matter 
what  eventuality. 

This  is  a  lecture  on  composition  which  is  indeterminate  with  respect  to  its  performance.  Indices  by  Earle  Brown 
is  not  an  example.  Where  the  performance  involves  a  number  of  players,  as  it  does  in  the  case  of  Indices,  the 
introduction  of  a  score— that  is,  a  fixed  relation  of  the  parts— removes  the  quality  of  indeterminacy  from  the  per- 
formance. Though  tables  of  random  numbers  (used  in  a  way  which  introduces  bias)  brought  about  the  determi- 
nations of  the  composition  ( structure,  method,  materials,  and  form  are  in  the  case  of  Indices  all  thus  determined ) , 
those  tables  are  not  available  in  its  performance.  The  function  of  the  conductor  is  that  of  a  contractor,  who, 
following  an  architect's  blueprint,  constructs  a  building.  The  function  of  the  instrumentalists  is  that  of  workmen 
who  simply  do  as  they  are  bid.  That  the  Indices  by  Earle  Brown  was  composed  by  means  of  tables  of  random 
numbers  ( used  in  a  way  which  introduces  bias )  identifies  the  composer  with  no  matter  what  eventuality,  since  by 
the  introduction  of  bias  he  has  removed  himself  from  an  association  with  the  scientific  interest  in  probability.  But 
that  the  notation  of  the  parts  is  in  all  respects  determinate,  and  that,  moreover,  a  score  provides  a  fixed  relation  of 
these  parts,  does  not  permit  the  conductor  or  the  players  any  such  identification.  Their  work  is  laid  out  before 
them.  The  conductor  is  not  able  to  conduct  from  his  own  center  but  must  identify  himself  insofar  as  possible  with 
the  center  of  the  work  as  written.  The  instrumentalists  are  not  able  to  perform  from  their  several  centers  but  are 
employed  to  identify  themselves  insofar  as  possible  with  the  directives  given  by  the  conductor.  They  identify  with 
the  work  itself,  if  at  all,  by  one  remove.  From  that  point  of  view  from  which  each  thing  and  each  being  is  seen 
as  moving  out  from  its  own  center,  this  situation  of  the  subservience  of  several  to  the  directives  of  one  who  is 
himself  controlled,  not  by  another  but  by  the  work  of  another,  is  intolerable. 

(In  this  connection  it  may  be  remarked  that  certain  Indian  traditional  practices  prohibit  ensemble,  limiting 
performance  to  the  solo  circumstance.  This  solo,  in  traditional  Indian  practice,  is  not  a  performance  of  something 
written  by  another  but  an  improvisation  by  the  performer  himself  within  certain  limitations  of  structure,  method, 
and  material.  Though  he  himself  by  the  morphology  of  the  continuity  brings  the  form  into  being,  the  expressive 
content  does  not  reside  in  this  compositional  element  alone,  but  by  the  conventions  of  Indian  tradition  resides  also 
in  all  the  other  compositional  elements. ) 

The  intolerable  situation  described  is,  of  course,  not  a  peculiarity  of  Indices,  but  a  characteristic  of  Western 
music,  the  masterpieces  of  which  are  its  most  imposing  examples,  which,  when  they  are  concerned  not  with  tables 
of  random  numbers  ( used  in  a  way  which  introduces  bias )  but  rather  with  ideas  of  order,  personal  feelings,  and 
the  integration  of  these,  simply  suggest  the  presence  of  a  man  rather  than  the  presence  of  sounds.  The  sounds  of 
Indices  are  just  sounds.  Had  bias  not  been  introduced  in  the  use  of  the  tables  of  random  numbers,  the  sounds 
would  have  been  not  just  sounds  but  elements  acting  according  to  scientific  theories  of  probability,  elements  act- 
ing in  relationship  due  to  the  equal  distribution  of  each  one  of  those  present— elements,  that  is  to  say,  under  the 
control  of  man. 

This  is  a  lecture  on  composition  which  is  indeterminate  with  respect  to  its  performance.  The  4  Systems  by  Earle 
Brown  is  an  example.  This  piece  may  be  performed  by  one  or  several  players.  There  is  no  score,  either  for  the 
solo  circumstance  or  for  that  of  ensemble.  The  quality  of  indeterminacy  is  for  this  reason  not  removed  from  the 
performance  even  where  a  number  of  players  are  involved,  since  no  fixed  relation  of  the  parts  exists.  The  original 
notation  is  a  drawing  of  rectangles  of  various  lengths  and  widths  in  ink  on  a  single  cardboard  having  four  equal 
divisions  (which  are  the  systems).  The  vertical  position  of  the  rectangles  refers  to  relative  time.  The  width  of 
the  rectangles  may  be  interpreted  either  as  an  interval  where  the  drawing  is  read  as  two-dimensional,  or  as  ampli- 
tude where  the  drawing  is  read  as  giving  the  illusion  of  a  third  dimension.  Any  of  the  interpretations  of  this 
material  may  be  superimposed  in  any  number  and  order  and,  with  the  addition  or  not  of  silences  between  them, 
may  be  used  to  produce  a  continuity  of  any  time-length.  In  order  to  multiply  the  possible  interpretations  the 
composer  gives  a  further  permission— to  read  the  cardboard  in  any  of  four  positions:  right  side  up,  upside  down, 
sideways,  up  and  down. 

This  further  permission  alters  the  situation  radically.  Without  it,  the  composition  was  highly  indeterminate 


of  its  performance.  The  drawing  was  not  consciously  organized.  Drawn  unknowingly,  from  the  Ground  of  Meister 
Eckhart,  it  identified  the  composer  with  no  matter  what  eventuality.  But  with  the  further  permission— that  of 
reading  the  cardboard  right  side  up,  upside  down,  sideways,  up  and  down— the  drawing  became  that  of  two  dif- 
ferent situations  or  groups  of  situations  and  their  inversions.  Inversions  are  a  hallmark  of  the  conscious  mind.  The 
composer's  identification  ( though  not  consciously  so  according  to  him )  is  therefore  no  longer  with  no  matter  what 
eventuality  but  rather  with  those  events  that  are  related  by  inversion.  What  might  have  been  non-dualistic  becomes 
dualistic.  From  a  non-dualistic  point  of  view,  each  thing  and  each  being  is  seen  at  the  center,  and  these  centers 
are  in  a  state  of  interpenetration  and  non-obstruction.  From  a  dualistic  point  of  view,  on  the  other  hand,  each 
thing  and  each  being  is  not  seen:  relationships  are  seen  and  interferences  are  seen.  To  avoid  undesired  interfer- 
ences and  to  make  one's  intentions  clear,  a  dualistic  point  of  view  requires  a  careful  integration  of  the  opposites. 

If  this  careful  integration  is  lacking  in  the  composition,  and  in  the  case  of  4  Systems  it  is  ( due  to  the  high 
degree  of  indeterminacy),  it  must  be  supplied  in  the  performance.  The  function  of  the  performer  or  of  each 
performer  in  the  case  of  4  Systems  is  that  of  making  something  out  of  a  store  of  raw  materials.  Structure,  the 
division  of  the  whole  into  parts,  is  indeterminate.  Form,  the  morphology  of  the  continuity,  is  also  indeterminate. 
In  given  interpretations  of  the  original  drawing  (such  as  those  made  by  David  Tudor  sufficient  in  number  to 
provide  a  performance  by  four  pianists  lasting  four  minutes )  method  is  determinate  and  so  too  are  the  amplitude, 
timbre,  and  frequency  characteristics  of  the  material.  The  duration  characteristic  of  the  material  is  both  determi- 
nate and  indeterminate,  since  fines  extending  from  note-heads  indicate  exact  length  of  time,  but  the  total  length  of 
time  of  a  system  is  indeterminate.  The  performer's  function,  in  the  case  of  4  Systems,  is  dual:  to  give  both  structure 
and  form;  to  provide,  that  is,  the  division  of  the  whole  into  parts  and  the  morphology  of  the  continuity. 

Conscious  only  of  his  having  made  a  composition  indeterminate  of  its  performance,  the  composer  does  not 
himself  acknowledge  the  necessity  of  this  dual  function  of  the  performer  which  I  am  describing.  He  does  not  agree 
with  the  view  here  expressed  that  the  permission  given  to  interpret  the  drawing  right  side  up,  upside  down,  and 
sideways,  up  and  down  obliges  the  integration  of  the  opposites:  conscious  organization  and  its  absence.  The  struc- 
tural responsibility  must  be  fulfilled  in  an  organized  way,  such  as  might  be  subjected  successfully  to  analysis.  ( The 
performers  in  each  performance  have,  as  a  matter  of  record,  given  to  each  system  lengths  of  time  which  are 
related  as  modules  are  in  architecture:  fifteen  seconds  and  multiples  thereof  by  two  or  four.)  The  formal  respon- 
sibility must  be  fulfilled  in  one  or  several  of  the  many  ways  which  are  not  consciously  organized.  However,  due 
to  the  identification  with  the  conscious  mind  indicated  in  4  Systems  by  the  presence  of  inversions,  though  not 
acknowledged  by  the  composer,  those  ways  which  are  not  consciously  organized  that  are  adjacent  to  the  ego  are 
apt  to  be  used,  particularly  where  the  performer  wishes  to  act  in  a  way  consistent  with  the  composition  as  here 
viewed.  He  will  in  these  cases  perform  arbitrarily,  feeling  his  way,  following  the  dictates  of  his  ego;  or  he  will 
perform  arbitrarily,  following  his  taste,  in  terms  of  sense  perception. 

What  might  have  given  rise,  by  reason  of  the  high  degree  of  indeterminacy,  to  no  matter  what  eventuality 
(to  a  process  essentially  purposeless)  becomes  productive  of  a  time-object.  This  object,  exceedingly  complex  due 
to  the  absence  of  a  score,  a  fixed  relation  of  the  parts,  is  analagous  to  a  futurist  or  cubist  painting,  perhaps,  or  to 
a  moving  picture  where  flicker  makes  seeing  the  object  difficult. 

From  the  account  which  appears  to  be  a  history  of  a  shift  from  non-dualism  to  dualism  (not  by  intention, 
since  the  composer  does  not  attach  to  the  inversions  the  importance  here  given  them,  but  as  a  by-product  of  the 
action  taken  to  multiply  possibilities)  the  following  deduction  may  be  made:  To  ensure  indeterminacy  with  respect 
to  its  performance,  a  composition  must  be  determinate  of  itself.  If  this  indeterminacy  is  to  have  a  non-dualistic 
nature,  each  element  of  the  notation  must  have  a  single  interpretation  rather  than  a  plurality  of  interpretations 
which,  coming  from  a  single  source,  fall  into  relation.  Likewise— though  this  is  not  relevant  to  4  Systems— one  may 
deduce  that  a  single  operation  within  the  act  of  composition  itself  must  not  give  rise  to  more  than  a  single 
notation.  Where  a  single  operation  is  applied  to  more  than  one  notation,  for  example  to  those  of  both  frequency  and 
amplitude  characteristics,  the  frequency  and  amplitude  characteristics  are  by  that  operation  common  to  both  brought 
into  relationship.  These  relationships  make  an  object;  and  this  object,  in  contrast  to  a  process  which  is  purposeless, 
must  be  viewed  dualistically.  Indeterminacy  when  present  in  the  making  of  an  object,  and  when  therefore  viewed 
dualistically,  is  a  sign  not  of  identification  with  no  matter  what  eventuality  but  simply  of  carelessness  with  regard 
to  the  outcome. 

This  is  a  lecture  on  composition  which  is  indeterminate  with  respect  to  its  performance.  Duo  II  for  Pianists  by 
Christian  Wolff  is  an  example.  In  the  case  of  Duo  II  for  Pianists,  structure,  the  division  of  the  whole  into  parts, 
is  indeterminate.  ( No  provision  is  given  by  the  composer  for  ending  the  performance. )  Method,  the  note-to-note 
procedure,  is  also  indeterminate.  All  the  characteristics  of  the  materials  (frequency,  amplitude,  timbre,  duration) 
are  indeterminate  within  gamut  limitations  provided  by  the  composer.  The  form,  the  morphology  of  the  con- 
tinuity, is  unpredictable.  One  of  the  pianists  begins  the  performance:  the  other,  noticing  a  particular  sound  or 
silence  which  is  one  of  a  gamut  of  cues,  responds  with  an  action  of  his  own  determination  from  among  given 
possibilities  within  a  given  time  bracket.  Following  this  beginning,  each  panist  responds  to  cues  provided  by  the 
other,  letting  no  silence  fall  between  responses,  though  these  responses  themselves  include  silences.  Certain  time 
brackets  are  in  zero  time.  There  is  no  score,  no  fixed  relation  of  the  parts.  Duo  II  for  Pianists  is  evidently  not  a 
time-object,  but  rather  a  process  the  beginning  and  ending  of  which  are  irrelevant  to  its  nature.  The  ending,  and 


the  beginning,  will  be  determined  in  performance,  not  by  exigencies  interior  to  the  action  but  by  circumstances  of 
the  concert  occasion.  If  the  other  pieces  on  the  program  take  forty-five  minutes  of  time  and  fifteen  minutes  more 
are  required  to  bring  the  program  to  a  proper  length,  Duo  II  for  Pianists  may  be  fifteen  minutes  long.  Where  only 
five  minutes  are  available,  it  will  be  five  minutes  long. 

The  function  of  each  performer  in  the  case  of  Duo  II  for  Pianists  is  comparable  to  that  of  a  traveler  who 
must  constantly  be  catching  trains  the  departures  of  which  have  not  been  announced  but  which  are  in  the  process 
of  being  announced.  He  must  be  continually  ready  to  go,  alert  to  the  situation,  and  responsible.  If  he  notices  no 
cue,  that  fact  itself  is  a  cue  calling  for  responses  indeterminate  within  gamut  limitations  and  time  brackets.  Thus 
he  notices  (or  notices  that  he  does  not  notice)  a  cue,  adds  time  bracket  to  time  bracket,  determines  his  response 
to  come  (meanwhile  also  giving  a  response),  and,  as  the  second  hand  of  a  chronometer  approaches  the  end  of 
one  bracket  and  the  beginning  of  the  next,  he  prepares  himself  for  the  action  to  come  ( meanwhile  still  making  an 
action),  and,  precisely  as  the  second  hand  of  a  chronometer  begins  the  next  time  bracket,  he  makes  the  suitable 
action  (meanwhile  noticing  or  noticing  that  he  does  not  notice  the  next  cue),  and  so  on.  How  is  each  performer 
to  fulfill  this  function  of  being  alert  in  an  indeterminate  situation?  Does  he  need  to  proceed  cautiously  in  dualistic 
terms?  On  the  contrary,  he  needs  his  mind  in  one  piece.  His  mind  is  too  busy  to  spend  time  splitting  itself  into 
conscious  and  not-conscious  parts.  These  parts,  however,  are  still  present.  What  has  happened  is  simply  a  com- 
plete change  of  direction.  Rather  than  making  the  not-conscious  parts  face  the  conscious  part  of  the  mind,  the 
conscious  part,  by  reason  of  the  urgency  and  indeterminacy  of  the  situation,  turns  towards  the  not-conscious  parts. 
He  is  therefore  able,  as  before,  to  add  two  to  two  to  get  four,  or  to  act  in  organized  ways  which  on  being  subjected 
to  analysis  successfully  are  found  to  be  more  complex.  But  rather  than  concentrating  his  attention  here,  in  the 
realm  of  relationships,  variations,  approximations,  repetitions,  logarithms,  his  attention  is  given  inwardly  and  out- 
wardly with  reference  to  the  structure  of  his  mind  to  no  matter  what  eventuality.  Turning  away  from  himself  and 
his  ego-sense  of  separation  from  other  beings  and  things,  he  faces  the  Ground  of  Meister  Eckhart,  from  which  all 
impermanencies  flow  and  to  which  they  return.  "Thoughts  arise  not  to  be  collected  and  cherished  but  to  be 
dropped  as  though  they  were  void.  Thoughts  arise  not  to  be  collected  and  cherished  but  to  be  dropped  as  though 
they  were  rotten  wood.  Thoughts  arise  not  to  be  collected  and  cherished  but  to  be  dropped  as  though  they  were 
pieces  of  stone.  Thoughts  arise  not  to  be  collected  and  cherished  but  to  be  dropped  as  though  they  were  the  cold 
ashes  of  a  fire  long  dead."  Similarly,  in  the  performance  of  Duo  II  for  Pianists,  each  performer,  when  he  performs 
in  a  way  consistent  with  the  composition  as  written,  will  let  go  of  his  feelings,  his  taste,  his  automatism,  his  sense 
of  the  universal,  not  attaching  himself  to  this  or  to  that,  leaving  by  his  performance  no  traces,  providing  by  his 
actions  no  interruption  to  the  fluency  of  nature.  The  performer  therefore  simply  does  what  is  to  be  done,  not 
splitting  his  mind  in  two,  not  separating  it  from  his  body,  which  is  kept  ready  for  direct  and  instantaneous  contact 
with  his  instrument. 

This  is  a  lecture  on  composition  which  is  indeterminate  with  respect  to  its  performance.  That  composition  is  neces- 
sarily experimental.  An  experimental  action  is  one  the  outcome  of  which  is  not  forseen.  Being  unforseen,  this  action 
is  not  concerned  with  its  excuse.  Like  the  land,  like  the  air,  it  needs  none.  A  performance  of  a  composition  which 
is  indeterminate  of  its  performance  is  necessarily  unique.  It  cannot  be  repeated.  When  performed  for  a  second 
time,  the  outcome  is  other  than  it  was.  Nothing  therefore  is  accomplished  by  such  a  performance,  since  that  per- 
formance cannot  be  grasped  as  an  object  in  time.  A  recording  of  such  a  work  has  no  more  value  than  a  postcard; 
it  provides  a  knowledge  of  something  that  happened,  whereas  the  action  was  a  non-knowledge  of  something  that 
had  not  yet  happened. 

There  are  certain  practical  matters  to  discuss  that  concern  the  performance  of  music  the  composition  of 
which  is  indeterminate  with  respect  to  its  performance.  These  matters  concern  the  physical  space  of  the  per- 
formance. These  matters  also  concern  the  physical  time  of  the  performance.  In  connection  with  the  physical  space 
of  the  performance,  where  that  performance  involves  several  players  (two  or  more),  it  is  advisable  for  several 
reasons  to  separate  the  performers  one  from  the  other,  as  much  as  is  convenient  and  in  accord  with  the  action  and 
the  architectural  situation.  This  separation  allows  the  sounds  to  issue  from  their  own  centers  and  to  interpenetrate 
in  a  way  which  is  not  obstructed  by  the  conventions  of  European  harmony  and  theory  about  relationships  and 
interferences  of  sounds.  In  the  case  of  the  harmonious  ensembles  of  European  musical  history,  a  fusion  of  sound 
was  of  the  essence,  and  therefore  players  in  an  ensemble  were  brought  as  close  together  as  possible,  so  that  their 
actions,  productive  of  an  object  in  time,  might  be  effective.  In  the  case,  however,  of  the  performance  of  music 
the  composition  of  which  is  indeterminate  of  its  performance  so  that  the  action  of  the  players  is  productive  of  a 
process,  no  harmonious  fusion  of  sound  is  essential.  A  non-obstruction  of  sounds  is  of  the  essence.  The  separation 
of  players  in  space  when  there  is  an  ensemble  is  useful  towards  bringing  about  this  non-obstruction  and  interpene- 
tration,  which  are  of  the  essence.  Furthermore,  this  separation  in  space  will  facilitate  the  independent  action  of 
each  performer,  who,  not  constrained  by  the  performance  of  a  part  which  has  been  extracted  from  a  score,  has 
turned  his  mind  in  the  direction  of  no  matter  what  eventuality.  There  is  the  possibility  when  people  are  crowded 
together  that  they  will  act  like  sheep  rather  than  nobly.  That  is  why  separation  in  space  is  spoken  of  as  facilitating 
independent  action  on  the  part  of  each  performer.  Sounds  will  then  arise  from  actions,  which  will  then  arise  from 
their  own  centers  rather  than  as  motor  or  psychological  effects  of  other  actions  and  sounds  in  the  environment. 
The  musical  recognition  of  the  necessity  of  space  is  tardy  with  respect  to  the  recognition  of  space  on  the  part  of 


the  other  arts,  not  to  mention  scientific  awareness.  It  is  indeed  astonishing  that  music  as  an  art  has  kept  perform- 
ing musicians  so  consistently  huddled  together  in  a  group.  It  is  high  time  to  separate  the  players  one  from  another, 
in  order  to  show  a  musical  recognition  of  the  necessity  of  space,  which  has  already  been  recognized  on  the  part  of 
the  other  arts,  not  to  mention  scientific  awareness.  What  is  indicated,  too,  is  a  disposition  of  the  performers,  in  the 
case  of  an  ensemble  in  space,  other  than  the  conventional  one  of  a  huddled  group  at  one  end  of  a  recital  or  sym- 
phonic hall.  Certainly  the  performers  in  the  case  of  an  ensemble  in  space  will  be  disposed  about  the  room.  The 
conventional  architecture  is  often  not  suitable.  What  is  required  perhaps  is  an  architecture  like  that  of  Mies  van  der 
Rohe's  School  of  Architecture  at  the  Illinois  Institute  of  Technology.  Some  such  architecture  will  be  useful  for  the 
performance  of  composition  which  is  indeterminate  of  its  performance.  Nor  will  the  performers  be  huddled  together 
in  a  group  in  the  center  of  the  audience.  They  must  at  least  be  disposed  separately  around  the  audience,  if  not,  by 
approaching  their  disposition  in  the  most  radically  realistic  sense,  actually  disposed  within  the  audience  itself.  In  this 
latter  case,  the  further  separation  of  performer  and  audience  will  facilitate  the  independent  action  of  each  person, 
which  will  include  mobility  on  the  part  of  all. 

There  are  certain  practical  matters  to  discuss  that  concern  the  performance  of  music  the  composition  of 
which  is  indeterminate  with  respect  to  its  performance.  These  matters  concern  the  physical  space  of  the  per- 
formance. These  matters  also  concern  the  physical  time  of  the  performance.  In  connection  with  the  physical  time 
of  the  performance,  where  that  performance  involves  several  players  (two  or  more),  it  is  advisable  for  several 
reasons  to  give  the  conductor  another  function  than  that  of  beating  time.  The  situation  of  sounds  arising  from 
actions  which  arise  from  their  own  centers  will  not  be  produced  when  a  conductor  beats  time  in  order  to  unify 
the  performance.  Nor  will  the  situation  of  sounds  arising  from  actions  which  arise  from  their  own  centers  be  pro- 
duced when  several  conductors  beat  different  times  in  order  to  bring  about  a  complex  unity  to  the  performance. 
Beating  time  is  not  necessary.  All  that  is  necessary  is  a  slight  suggestion  of  time,  obtained  either  from  glancing  at 
a  watch  or  at  a  conductor  who,  by  his  actions,  represents  a  watch.  Where  an  actual  watch  is  used,  it  becomes 
possible  to  foresee  the  time,  by  reason  of  the  steady  progress  from  second  to  second  of  the  second  hand.  Where, 
however,  a  conductor  is  present,  who  by  his  actions  represents  a  watch  which  moves  not  mechanically  but  vari- 
ably, it  is  not  possible  to  foresee  the  time,  by  reason  of  the  changing  progress  from  second  to  second  of  the  con- 
ductor's indications.  Where  this  conductor,  who  by  his  actions  represents  a  watch,  does  so  in  relation  to  a  part 
rather  than  a  score— to,  in  fact,  his  own  part,  not  that  of  another— his  actions  will  interpenetrate  with  those  of  the 
players  of  the  ensemble  in  a  way  which  will  not  obstruct  their  actions.  The  musical  recognition  of  the  necessity  of 
time  is  tardy  with  respect  to  the  recognition  of  time  on  the  part  of  broadcast  communications,  radio,  television, 
not  to  mention  magnetic  tape,  not  to  mention  travel  by  air,  departures  and  arrivals  from  no  matter  what  point  at  no 
matter  what  time,  to  no  matter  what  point  at  no  matter  what  time,  not  to  mention  telephony.  It  is  indeed 
astonishing  that  music  as  an  art  has  kept  performing  musicians  so  consistently  beating  time  together  like  so  many 
horseback  riders  huddled  together  on  one  horse.  It  is  high  time  to  let  sounds  issue  in  time  independent  of  a  beat 
in  order  to  show  a  musical  recognition  of  the  necessity  of  time  which  has  already  been  recognized  on  the  part  of 
broadcast  communications,  radio,  television,  not  to  mention  magnetic  tape,  not  to  mention  travel  by  air,  departures 
and  arrivals  from  no  matter  what  point  at  no  matter  what  time,  to  no  matter  what  point  at  no  matter  what  time, 
not  to  mention  telephony. 

An  Indian  lady  invited  me  to  dinner  and  said  Dr.  Suzuki  would  be  there.  He  was.  Before  dinner  I 
mentioned  Gertrude  Stein.  Suzuki  had  never  heard  of  her.  I  described  aspects  of  her  work,  which  he 
said  sounded  very  interesting.  Stimulated,  I  mentioned  James  Joyce,  whose  name  was  also  new  to  him. 
At  dinner  he  was  unable  to  eat  the  curries  that  were  offered,  so  a  few  uncooked  vegetables  and  fruits 
were  brought,  which  he  enjoyed.  After  dinner  the  talk  turned  to  metaphysical  problems,  and  there  were 
many  questions,  for  the  hostess  was  a  follower  of  a  certain  Indian  yogi  and  her  guests  were  more  or  less 
equally  divided  between  allegiance  to  Indian  thought  and  to  Japanese  thought.  About  eleven  o'clock  we 
were  out  on  the  street  walking  along,  and  an  American  lady  said,  "How  is  it,  Dr.  Suzuki?  We  spend  the 
evening  asking  you  questions  and  nothing  is  decided."  Dr.  Suzuki  smiled  and  said,  "That's  why  I  love 
philosophy:  no  one  wins." 


The  following  text  is  made  up  of  questions  and  quotations.  The  quotations  are 
some  from  the  writings  of  others  and  some  from  my  own  writings.  (That  from 
Christian  Wolff  is  from  his  article  "New  and  Electronic  Music,"  copyright 
1958  by  the  Audience  Press,  and  reprinted  by  permission  from  Audience, 
Volume  V,  Number  3,  Summer  1958.)  The  order  and  quantity  of  the  quotations 
were  given  by  chance  operations.  No  performance  timing  was  composed. 
Nevertheless,  1  always  prescribe  one  before  delivering  this  lecture,  sometimes 
adding  by  chance  operations  indications  of  when,  in  the  course  of  the 
performance,  I  am  obliged  to  light  a  cigarette. 

III.  Communication 


What  if  I  ask  thirty-two  questions? 

What  if  I  stop  asking  now  and  then? 

Will  that  make  things  clear? 

Is  communication  something  made  clear? 

What  is  communication? 

Music,  what  does  it  communicate? 

Is  what's  clear  to  me  clear  to  you? 

Is  music  just  sounds? 

Then  what  does  it  communicate? 

Is  a  truck  passing  by  music? 

If  I  can  see  it,  do  I  have  to  hear  it  too? 

If  I  don't  hear  it,  does  it  still  communicate? 

If  while  I  see  it  I  can't  hear  it,  but  hear  something  else,  say  an  egg-beater,  because  I'm 

inside  looking  out,  does  the  truck  communicate  or  the  egg-beater,  which  communicates? 
Which  is  more  musical,  a  truck  passing  by  a  factory  or  a  truck 

passing  by  a  music  school? 
Are  the  people  inside  the  school  musical  and  the  ones  outside  unmusical? 
What  if  the  ones  inside  can't  hear  very  well,  would  that  change  my  question? 
Do  you  know  what  I  mean  when  I  say  inside  the  school? 
Are  sounds  just  sounds  or  are  they  Beethoven? 
People  aren't  sounds,  are  they? 


Is  there  such  a  thing  as  silence? 

Even  if  I  get  away  from  people,  do  I  still  have  to  listen  to  something? 

Say  I'm  off  in  the  woods,  do  I  have  to  listen  to  a  stream  babbling? 

Is  there  always  something  to  hear,  never  any  peace  and  quiet? 

If  my  head  is  full  of  harmony,  melody,  and  rhythm,  what  happens  to 

me  when  the  telephone  rings,  to  my  piece  and  quiet,  I  mean? 
And  if  it  was  European  harmony,  melody,  and  rhythm  in  my  head,  what  has  happened 

to  the  history  of,  say,  Javanese  music,  with  respect,  that  is  to  say,  to  my  head? 
Are  we  getting  anywhere  asking  questions? 
Where  are  we  going? 
Is  this  the  twenty-eighth  question? 
Are  there  any  important  questions? 

"How  do  you  need  to  cautiously  proceed  in  dualistic  terms?" 
Do  I  have  two  more  questions? 
And,  now,  do  I  have  none? 

Now  that  I've  asked  thirty-two  questions,  can  I  ask  forty-four  more? 

I  can,  but  may  I? 

Why  must  I  go  on  asking  questions? 

Is  there  any  reason  in  asking  why? 

Would  I  ask  why  if  questions  were  not  words  but  were  sounds? 

If  words  are  sounds,  are  they  musical  or  are  they  just  noises? 

If  sounds  are  noises  but  not  words,  are  they  meaningful? 

Are  they  musical? 

Say  there  are  two  sounds  and  two  people  and  one  of  each  is  beautiful, 

is  there  between  all  four  any  communication? 
And  if  there  are  rules,  who  made  them,  I  ask  you? 
Does  it  begin  somewhere,  I  mean,  and  if  so,  where  does  it  stop? 
What  will  happen  to  me  or  to  you  if  we  have  to  be  somewhere  where  beauty  isn't? 
I  ask  you,  sometime,  too,  sounds  happening  in  time,  what  will  happen  to  our  experience 

of  hearing,  yours,  mine,  our  ears,  hearing,  what  will  happen  if  sounds  being 

beautiful  stop  sometime  and  the  only  sounds  to  hear  are  not  beautiful  to  hear 

but  are  ugly,  what  will  happen  to  us? 
Would  we  ever  be  able  to  get  so  that  we  thought  the  ugly  sounds  were  beautiful? 
If  we  drop  beauty,  what  have  we  got? 
Have  we  got  truth? 


Have  we  got  religion? 

Do  we  have  a  mythology? 

Would  we  know  what  to  do  with  one  if  we  had  one? 

Have  we  got  a  way  to  make  money? 

And  if  money  is  made,  will  it  be  spent  on  music? 

If  Russia  spends  sixty  million  for  the  Brussels  Fair,  lots  of  it  for  music  and  dance,  and 

America  spends  one-tenth  of  that,  six  million  about,  does  that  mean  that  one  out  of 

ten  Americans  is  as  musical  and  kinesthetic  as  all  the  Russians  put  together? 
If  we  drop  money,  what  have  we  got? 

Since  we  haven't  yet  dropped  truth,  where  shall  we  go  looking  for  it? 
Didn't  we  say  we  weren't  going,  or  did  we  just  ask  where  we  were  going? 
If  we  didn't  say  we  weren't  going,  why  didn't  we? 
If  we  had  any  sense  in  our  heads,  wouldn't  we  know  the  truth  instead 

of  going  around  looking  for  it? 
How  otherwise  would  we,  as  they  say,  be  able  to  drink  a  glass  of  water? 
We  know,  don't  we,  everybody  else's  religion,  mythology,  and  philosophy 

and  metaphysics  backwards  and  forwards,  so  what  need  would  we  have 

for  one  of  our  own  if  we  had  one,  but  we  don't,  do  we? 
But  music,  do  we  have  any  music? 
Wouldn't  it  be  better  to  just  drop  music  too? 
Then  what  would  we  have? 

What's  left? 

Do  you  mean  to  say  it's  a  purposeless  play? 

Is  that  what  it  is  when  you  get  up  and  hear  the  first  sound  of  each  day? 
Is  it  possible  that  I  could  go  on  monotonously  asking  questions  forever? 
Would  I  have  to  know  how  many  questions  I  was  going  to  ask? 
Would  I  have  to  know  how  to  count  in  order  to  ask  questions? 
Do  I  have  to  know  when  to  stop? 

Is  this  the  one  chance  we  have  to  be  alive  and  ask  a  question? 
How  long  will  we  be  able  to  be  alive? 







Something  remarkable  has  happened:  I  was  asking  questions;  now  I'm 
quoting  from  a  lecture  I  gave  years  ago.  Of  course  I  will  ask  some 
more  questions  later  on,  but  not  now:  I  have  quoting  to  do. 































is  from  the  Gospel  of  Sri  Ramakrishna.  his  living  and  talking 

had  impressed  a  musician  who  began  to  think  that  he  should  gfve 

up  music  and  become  a  disciple  of  ramakrishna.  but  when  he  proposed 

this,  Ramakrishna  said,  by  no  means.  remain 

a  musician:  music  is  a  means  of  raped  transportation. 

rapid  transportation,  that  is,  to  ld7e  "everlasting," 
that  is  to  say,  life,  period.  another  story  is  that 

when  i  was  ferst  aware  that  i  was  to  grve  this  talk  i  consulted 
the  Book  of  Changes  and  obtained  by  tossing  coins  the  hexagram 























































This  is  the  second  Tuesday  in  Sepember  of  1958  and  I  still  have 

quite  a  lot  to  say:  I'm  nowhere  near  the  end.  I  have  four  questions  I  must  ask. 

If,  as  we  have,  we  have  dropped  music,  does  that  mean  we  have  nothing  to  listen  to? 
Don't  you  agree  with  Kafka  when  he  wrote,  "Psychology— never  again?" 
If  you  had  to  put  on  ten  fingers  the  music  you  would  take  with  you 

if  you  were  going  to  the  North  Pole,  what  would  you  put? 
Is  it  true  there  are  no  questions  that  are  really  important? 

Here's  a  little  information  you  may  find  informative  about  the  information  theory: 


What  did  I  say? 

Where  is  the  "should"  when  they  say  you  should  have  something  to  say? 
Three.  Actually  when  you  drop  something,  it's  still  with  you,  wouldn't  you  say? 
Four.  Where  would  you  drop  something  to  get  it  completely  away? 
Five.  Why  do  you  not  do  as  I  do,  letting  go  of  each  thought  as  though  it  were  void? 
Six.  Why  do  you  not  do  as  I  do,  letting  go  of  each  thought  as  though  it  were  rotten  wood? 
Why  do  you  not  do  as  I  do,  letting  go  of  each  thought  as  though  it  were  a  piece  of  stone? 
Why  do  you  not  do  as  I  do,  letting  go  of  each  thought  as  though  it  were  the  cold  ashes  of  a 
fire  long  dead,  or  else  just  making  the  slight  response  suitable  to  the  occasion? 


Nine.  Do  you  really  think  that  the  discovery  that  a  measurable  entity  exists,  namely, 
the  energy  which  can  measure  mechanical,  electrical,  thermal,  or  any  other  kind  of 
physical  activity,  and  can  measure  potential  as  well  as  actual  activity,  greatly 
simplifies  thinking  about  physical  phenomena? 

Do  you  agree  with  Boulez  when  he  says  what  he  says? 

Are  you  getting  hungry? 

Twelve.  Why  should  you  ( you  know  more  or  less  what  you're  going  to  get )  ? 

Will  Boulez  be  there  or  did  he  go  away  when  I  wasn't  looking? 

Why  do  you  suppose  the  number  12  was  given  up  but  the  idea  of  the  series  wasn't? 

Or  was  it? 

And  if  not,  why  not? 

In  the  meantime,  would  you  like  to  hear  the  very  first  performance  of 
Christian  Wolffs  For  Piano  with  Preparations? 

What  in  heaven's  name  are  they  going  to  serve  us  for  dinner,  and  what 

happens  afterwards? 
More  music? 

Living  or  dead,  that's  the  big  question. 
When  you  get  sleepy,  do  you  go  to  sleep? 
Or  do  you  He  awake? 
Why  do  I  have  to  go  on  asking  questions? 
Is  it  the  same  reason  I  have  to  go  on  writing  music? 
But  it's  clear,  isn't  it,  I'm  not  writing  music  right  now? 
Why  do  they  call  me  a  composer,  then,  if  all  I  do  is  ask  questions? 
If  one  of  us  says  that  all  twelve  tones  should  be  in  a  row  and  another  says  they  shouldn't, 

which  one  of  us  is  right? 
What  if  a  B  flat,  as  they  say,  just  comes  to  me? 
How  can  I  get  it  to  come  to  me  of  itself,  not  just  pop  up  out  of  my 

memory,  taste,  and  psychology? 

Do  you  know  how? 
And  if  I  did  or  somebody  else  did  find  a  way  to  let  a  sound  be  itself, 

would  everybody  within  earshot  be  able  to  listen  to  it? 
Why  is  it  so  difficult  for  so  many  people  to  listen? 
Why  do  they  start  talking  when  there  is  something  to  hear? 
Do  they  have  their  ears  not  on  the  sides  of  their  heads  but  situated  inside  their  mouths 


so  that  when  they  hear  something  their  first  impulse  is  to  start  talking? 
The  situation  should  be  made  more  normal,  don't  you  think? 
Why  don't  they  keep  their  mouths  shut  and  their  ears  open? 
Are  they  stupid? 

And,  if  so,  why  don't  they  try  to  hide  their  stupidity? 
Were  bad  manners  acquired  when  knowledge  of  music  was  acquired? 
Does  being  musical  make  one  automatically  stupid  and  unable  to  listen? 
Then  don't  you  think  one  should  put  a  stop  to  studying  music? 
Where  are  your  thinking  caps? 

we're  passing  through  time  and  space,  our  ears  are  in  excellent  condition. 

a  sound  is  high  or  low,  soft  or  loud,  of  a  certain  ttmhre,  lasts  a  certain  length  of  time, 
and  has  an  envelope. 

Is  it  high? 

Is  it  low? 

Is  it  in  the  middle? 

Is  it  soft? 

Is  it  loud? 

Are  there  two? 

Are  there  more  than  two? 

Is  it  a  piano? 

Why  isn't  it? 

Was  it  an  airplane? 

Is  it  a  noise? 

Is  it  music? 

Is  it  softer  than  before? 

Is  it  supersonic? 

When  will  it  stop? 

What's  coming? 

Is  it  time? 

Is  it  very  short? 

Very  long? 

Just  medium? 

If  I  had  something  to  see,  would  it  be  theatre? 


Is  sound  enough? 

What  more  do  I  need? 

Don't  I  get  it  whether  I  need  it  or  not? 

Is  it  a  sound? 

Then,  again,  is  it  music? 

Is  music— the  word,  I  mean— is  that  a  sound? 

If  it  is,  is  music  music? 

Is  the  word  "music"  music? 

Does  it  communicate  anything? 

Must  it? 

If  it's  high,  does  it? 

If  it's  low,  does  it? 

If  it's  in  the  middle,  does  it? 

If  it's  soft,  does  it? 

If  it's  loud,  does  it? 

If  it's  an  interval,  does  it? 

What  is  an  interval? 

Is  an  interval  a  chord? 

Is  a  chord  an  aggregate? 

Is  an  aggregate  a  constellation? 

What's  a  constellation? 

How  many  sounds  are  there  altogether? 

One  million? 

Ten  thousand? 


Do  I  have  to  ask  ten  more? 

Do  I? 


Why  do  I? 

Did  I  decide  to  ask  so  many? 

Wasn't  I  taking  a  risk? 

Was  I? 

Why  was  I? 

Will  it  never  stop? 

Why  won't  it? 




Would  it  be  too  much  to  ask  if  I  asked  thirty-three  more? 

Who's  asking? 

Is  it  I  who  ask? 

Don't  I  know  my  own  mind? 

Then  why  do  I  ask  if  I  don't  know? 

Then  it's  not  too  much  to  ask? 


Then,  tell  me,  do  you  prefer  Bach  to  Beethoven? 

And  why? 

Would  you  like  to  hear  Quantitaten  by  Bo  Nilsson  whether  it's 

performed  for  the  first  time  or  not? 
Has  any  one  seen  Meister  Eckhart  lately? 
Do  you  think  serious  music  is  serious  enough? 
Is  a  seventh  chord  inappropriate  in  modern  music? 
What  about  fifths  and  octaves? 
What  if  the  seventh  chord  was  not  a  seventh  chord? 
Doesn't  it  seem  silly  to  go  on  asking  questions  when  there's  so  much 

to  do  that's  really  urgent? 
But  we're  halfway  through,  aren't  we? 
Shall  we  buck  up? 

Are  we  in  agreement  that  the  field  of  music  needs  to  be  enlivened? 
Do  we  disagree? 
On  what? 

If  I  have  two  sounds,  are  they  related? 
If  someone  is  nearer  one  of  them  than  he  is  to  the  second,  is  he 

more  related  to  the  first  one? 
What  about  sounds  that  are  too  far  away  for  us  to  hear  them? 
Sounds  are  just  vibrations,  isn't  that  true? 
Part  of  a  vast  range  of  vibrations  including  radio  waves,  light, 

cosmic  rays,  isn't  that  true? 


Why  didn't  I  mention  that  before? 
Doesn't  that  stir  the  imagination? 
Shall  we  praise  God  from  Whom  all  blessings  flow? 
Is  a  sound  a  blessing? 
I  repeat,  is  a  sound  a  blessing? 

I  repeat,  would  you  like  to  hear  Quantitaten  by  Bo  Nilsson  whether 
it's  performed  for  the  first  time  or  not? 

The  Belgians  asked  me  about  the  avant-garde  in  America  and  this  is  what  I  told  them: 

in  the  united  states  there  aee  as  many  ways  of  writing  music  as  there 
are  composers.  there  is  also  no  avatlarle  information  as  to  what  is 
going  on.  there  is  no  magazine  concerned  with  modern  music.  purlishers 
are  not  inquisitive.  the  societies  which  actively  exist  (  hroadcast 
music  inc.,  american  society  of  composers,  authors  and  publishers  )  are 
concerned  with  economics,  currently  engaged  in  an  important  lawsuit, 
in  new  york  city,  the  league  of  composers  and  the  international 
society  for  contemporary  music  have  fused,  the  new  organization 
representing  the  current  interest  in  consolidating  the  acquisitions 
of  schoenberg  and  stravinsky.  this  circle  has,  no  doubt,  an  avant-garde, 
but  it  is  a  cautious  one,  refusing  risk.  its  most  accomplished 
and  adventurous  representative  is  probably  mllton  babbitt,  who,  in 
certain  works,  has  applied  serial  method  to  the  several  aspects  of 
sound.  the  works  for  magnetic  tape  by  luening  and  ussachevsky,  louis 
and  Bebe  Barron,  are  not  properly  termed  avant-garde,  since  they 
maintain  conventions  and  accepted  values.  the  young  study  with 
neo-classicists,  so  that  the  spirit  of  the  avant-garde,  infecting  them, 
induces  a  certain  dodecaphony.  in  this  social  darkness,  therefore,  the 
work  of  Earle  Brown,  Morton  Feldman,  and  Christian  Wolff  continues  to 
present  a  brilliant  light,  for  the  reason  that  at  the  several  points 
of  notation,  performance,  and  audition,  action  is  provocative.  none 
of  these  uses  serial  method.  brown's  notation  in  space  equal  to  time 



They  also— the  Belgians,  that  is— asked  me  whether  the  American  avant-garde  follows 
the  same  direction  as  the  European  one  and  this  is  what  I  told  them: 


Henri  Pousseur,  Bo  Ndlsson,  Bengt  Hambraeus,  has  in  its  concerts 
presented  them  in  performances,  notably  by  davod  tudor,  pianist.  that 
these  works  are  serial  in  method  diminishes  somewhat  the  interest 
they  enjoin.  but  the  thoroughness  of  the  method's  application  bringing 
a  situation  removed  from  conventional  expectation  frequently 
opens  the  ear.  however,  the  european  works  present  a  harmoniousness, 
a  drama,  or  a  poetry  which,  referring  more  to  thedr  composers  than  to 
thehl  hearers,  moves  in  directions  not  shared  by  the  american  ones. 
many  of  the  american  works  envisage  each  auditor  as  central,  so 
that  the  physical  circumstances  of  a  concert  do  not  oppose  audd2nce 
to  performers  but  dispose  the  latter  around-among  the  former,  bringing 
a  unique  acoustical  experience  to  each  patr  of  ears.  admittedly,  a 
situation  of  this  complexity  is  beyond  control,  yet  it  resembles 
a  listener's  situation  before  and  after  a  concert— daily  experience, 
that  is.  it  appears  such  a  continuum  is  not  part  of  the  european 


It's  getting  late,  isn't  it? 

I  still  have  two  things  to  do,  so  what  I  want  to  know  is :  Would  you  like  to  hear 
Quantitaten  by  Bo  Nilsson  whether  it's  performed  for  the  first  time  or  not? 


I  must  read  a  little  from  an  article  by  Christian  Wolff.  Here's  what  he  says: 


variable,  as  in  Pousseur's  Exercises  de  Piano  and  Stockhausen's  Klavierstuck  XL 
in  Cage's  recent  work  the  notation  itself  can  be  circular, 
the  succession  of  notes  on  a  stave  not  necessarily  indicating  their 
sequence  in  time,  that  is,  the  order  in  which  they  are  performed,  one 
may  have  to  read  notes  on  a  circle,  in  two  "voices"  going  in  opposite 
ddrections  simultaneously.  an  aspect  of  time  dissolves.  and  the  europeans 
often  view  organization  as  "global,"  whereby  beginnings  and  ends 
are  not  points  on  a  line  but  limits  of  a  piece's  material  (  for  example, 
pitch  ranges  or  possible  combinations  of  timbres  )  which  may  be  touched 
at  any  time  during  the  piece.  the  boundaries  of  the  piece  are  expressed, 
not  at  moments  of  time  which  mark  a  succession,  but  as  margins  of  a 
spatial  projection  of  the  total  sound  structure. 

as  for  the  quality  of  irritation,  that  is  a  more  subjective  matter, 
one  might  say  that  it  is  at  least  preferable  to  soothing,  edifying, 
exalting,  and  similar  qualities.  its  source  is,  of  course,  precisely 
in  monotony,  not  in  any  forms  of  aggression  or  emphasis.  it  is  the 
immobility  of  motion.  and  it  alone,  perhaps,  is  truly  moving. 

And  now  I  have  to  read  a  story  from  Kwang-Tse  and  then  I'm  finished: 

Yun  Kiang,  rambling  to  the  East,  having  been  borne  along  on  a  gentle  breeze, 
suddenly  encountered  Hung  Mung,  who  was  rambling  about,  slapping  his  buttocks  and 
hopping  like  a  bird.  Amazed  at  the  sight,  Yun  Kiang  stood  reverentially  and  said  to 


the  other,  "Venerable  Sir,  who  are  you?  and  why  are  you  doing  this?"  Hung  Mung  went 
on  slapping  his  buttocks  and  hopping  like  a  bird,  but  replied,  "I'm  enjoying  myself." 
Yun  Kiang  said,  "I  wish  to  ask  you  a  question."  Hung  Mung  lifted  up  his  head,  looked  at 
the  stranger,  and  said,  "Pooh !"  Yun  Kiang,  however,  continued,  "The  breath  of  heaven 
is  out  of  harmony ;  the  breath  of  earth  is  bound  up ;  the  six  elemental  influences  do  not  act 
in  concord ;  the  four  seasons  do  not  observe  their  proper  times.  Now  I  wish  to  blend  together 
the  essential  qualities  of  those  six  influences  in  order  to  nourish  all  living  things.  How  shall 
I  go  about  it?"  Hung  Mung  slapped  his  buttocks,  hopped  about,  and  shook  his  head,  saying, 
"I  do  not  know ;  I  do  not  know !" 

Yun  Kiang  could  not  pursue  his  question ;  but  three  years  afterwards,  when  again 
rambling  in  the  East,  as  he  was  passing  by  the  wild  of  Sung,  he  happened  to  meet 
Hung  Mung.  Delighted  with  the  rencontre,  he  hastened  to  him,  and  said, 
"Have  you  forgotten  me,  O  Heaven  ?  Have  you  forgotten  me,  O  Heaven  ?"  At  the  same 
time,  he  bowed  twice  with  his  head  to  the  ground,  wishing  to  receive  his  instructions. 
Hung  Mung  said,  "Wandering  listlessly  about,  I  know  not  what  I  seek ;  carried  on  by  a 
wild  impulse,  I  know  not  where  I  am  going.  I  wander  about  in  the  strange  manner  which 
you  have  seen,  and  see  that  nothing  proceeds  without  method  and  order — what  more 
should  I  know?"  Yun  Kiang  replied,  "I  also  seem  carried  on  by  an  aimless  influence,  and 
yet  people  follow  me  wherever  I  go.  I  cannot  help  their  doing  so.  But  now  as  they  thus 
imitate  me,  I  wish  to  hear  a  word  from  you."  The  other  said,  "What  disturbs  the  regular 
method  of  Heaven,  comes  into  collision  with  the  nature  of  things,  prevents  the 
accomplishment  of  the  mysterious  operation  of  Heaven,  scatters  the  herds  of  animals, 
makes  the  birds  sing  at  night,  is  calamitous  to  vegetation,  and  disastrous  to  all  insects ; 
all  this  is  owing,  I  conceive,  to  the  error  of  governing  men."  "What  then,"  said  Yun  Kiang, 
"shall  I  do  ?"  "Ah,"  said  the  other,  "you  will  only  injure  them !  I  will  leave  you  in  my 
dancing  way,  and  return  to  my  place."  Yun  Kiang  rejoined,  "It  has  been  difficult  to  get  this 
meeting  with  you,  O  Heaven !  I  should  like  to  hear  from  you  a  word  more." 
Hung  Mung  said,  "Ah !  your  mind  needs  to  be  nourished.  Do  you  only  take  the  position  of 
doing  nothing,  and  things  will  of  themselves  become  transformed.  Neglect  your  body ; 
cast  out  from  you  your  power  of  hearing  and  sight ;  forget  what  you  have  in  common  with 
things ;  cultivate  a  grand  similarity  with  the  chaos  of  the  plastic  ether ;  unloose  your  mind ; 
set  your  spirit  free ;  be  still  as  if  you  had  no  soul.  Of  all  the  multitude  of  things,  every  one 
returns  to  its  root,  and  does  not  know  that  it  is  doing  so.  They  all  are  as  in  the  state  of 
chaos,  and  during  all  their  existence  they  do  not  leave  it.  If  they  knew  that  they  were 
returning  to  their  root,  they  would  be  consciously  leaving  it.  They  do  not  ask  its  name ; 
they  do  not  seek  to  spy  out  their  nature ;  and  thus  it  is  that  things  come  to  life  of  themselves." 


Yun  Kiang  said,  "Heaven,  you  have  conferred  on  me  the  knowledge  of  your 
operation  and  revealed  to  me  the  mystery  of  it.  All  my  life  I  have  been  seeking  for  it,  and 
now  I  have  obtained  it."  He  then  bowed  twice  with  his  head  to  the  ground,  arose, 
took  his  leave,  and  walked  away. 

One  day  when  I  was  across  the  hall  visiting  Sonya  Sekula,  I  noticed  that  she  was  painting  left-handed. 
I  said,  "Sonya,  aren't  you  right-handed?"  She  said,  "Yes,  but  I  might  lose  the  use  of  my  right  hand,  and  so 
I'm  practicing  using  my  left."  I  laughed  and  said,  "What  if  you  lose  the  use  of  both  hands?"  She  was  busy 
painting  and  didn't  bother  to  reply.  Next  day  when  I  visited  her,  she  was  sitting  on  the  floor,  painting  with 
difficulty,  for  she  was  holding  the  brush  between  two  toes  of  her  left  foot. 

Morris  Graves  introduced  Xenia  and  me  to  a  mim'ature  island  in  Puget  Sound  at  Deception  Pass.  To 
get  there  we  traveled  from  Seattle  about  seventy-five  miles  north  and  west  to  Anacortes  Island,  then  south 
to  the  Pass,  where  we  parked.  We  walked  along  a  rocky  beach  and  then  across  a  sandy  stretch  that  was 
passable  only  at  low  tide  to  another  island,  continuing  through  some  luxuriant  woods  up  a  hill  where  now 
and  then  we  had  views  of  the  surrounding  waters  and  distant  islands,  until  finally  we  came  to  a  small  foot- 
bridge that  led  to  our  destination— an  island  no  larger  than,  say,  a  modest  home.  This  island  was  carpeted 
with  flowers  and  was  so  situated  that  all  of  Deception  Pass  was  visible  from  it,  just  as  though  we  were 
in  the  best  seats  of  an  intimate  theatre.  While  we  were  lying  there  on  that  bed  of  flowers,  some  other 
people  came  across  the  footbridge.  One  of  them  said  to  another,  "You  come  all  this  way  and  then  when 
you  get  here  there's  nothing  to  see." 

A  composer  friend  of  mine  who  spent  some  time  in  a  mental  rehabilitation  center  was  encouraged 
to  do  a  good  deal  of  bridge  playing.  After  one  game,  his  partner  was  criticizing  his  play  of  an  ace  on  a 
trick  which  had  already  been  won.  My  friend  stood  up  and  said,  "If  you  think  I  came  to  the  loony  bin 
to  learn  to  play  bridge,  you're  crazy." 


The  two  articles  which  follow  are  technical.  Information  regarding  other 
compositional  means  may  be  found  in  the  brochure  accompanying  George 
Avakians  recording  of  my  twenty-five-year  retrospective  concert  at 
Town  Hall  in  1958. 

The  first  article  was  my  part  of  Four  Musicians  at  Work  which  was  published 
in  trans/formation,  Volume  1,  Number  3  (New  York  City,  1952). 


To  Describe  the  Process  of  Composition  Used  in 
Music  of  Changes  and  Imaginary  Landscape  No.  4 

My  recent  work  (Imaginary  Landscape  No.  TV  for  twelve  radios  and  the 
Music  of  Changes  for  piano)  is  structurally  similar  to  my  earlier  work: 
based  on  a  number  of  measures  having  a  square  root,  so  that  the  large 
lengths  have  the  same  relation  within  the  whole  that  the  small  lengths  have 
within  a  unit  of  it.  Formerly,  however,  these  lengths  were  time-lengths, 
whereas  in  the  recent  work  the  lengths  exist  only  in  space,  the  speed  of 
travel  through  this  space  being  unpredictable. 

What  brings  about  this  unpredictability  is  the  use  of  the  method  estab- 
lished in  the  I-Ching  (Book  of  Changes)  for  the  obtaining  of  oracles,  that 
of  tossing  three  coins  six  times. 

Three  coins  tossed  once  yield  four  lines:  three  heads,  broken  with  a 
circle;  two  tails  and  a  head,  straight;  two  heads  and  a  tail,  broken;  three 
tails,  straight  with  a  circle.  Three  coins  tossed  thrice  yield  eight  trigrams 
( written  from  the  base  up ) :  chien,  three  straight;  chen,  straight,  broken, 
broken;  kan,  broken,  straight,  broken;  ken,  broken,  broken,  straight;  kun, 
three  broken;  sun,  broken,  straight,  straight;  li,  straight,  broken,  straight; 
tui,  straight,  straight,  broken.  Three  coins  tossed  six  times  yield  sixty-four 
hexagrams  (two  trigrams,  the  second  written  above  the  first)  read  in  refer- 
ence to  a  chart  of  the  numbers  1  to  64  in  a  traditional  arrangement  having 
eight  divisions  horizontally  corresponding  to  the  eight  lower  trigrams  and 
eight  divisions  vertically  corresponding  to  the  eight  upper  trigrams.  A 
hexagram  having  lines  with  circles  is  read  twice,  first  as  written,  then  as 
changed.  Thus,  chien-chien,  straight  lines  with  circles,  is  read  first  as  1, 


then  as  kun-kun,  2;  whereas  chien-chien,  straight  lines  without  circles,  is 
read  only  as  1. 

Charts  are  made  of  an  equal  number  of  elements  (sixty-four)  which 
refer  to  Superpositions  (one  chart)  (how  many  events  are  happening  at 
once  during  a  given  structural  space);  Tempi  (one  chart);  Durations  (n, 
the  number  of  possible  superpositions,  in  these  works,  eight  charts ) ;  Sounds 
( eight  charts ) ;  Dynamics  ( eight  charts ) . 

Where  there  are  eight  charts,  four  at  any  instant  are  mobile  and  four 
immobile  ( mobile  means  an  element  passes  into  history  once  used,  giving 
place  to  a  new  one;  immobile  means  an  element,  though  used,  remains  to 
be  used  again).  Which  charts  are  which  is  determined  by  the  first  toss  at  a 
large  unit  structural  point,  an  odd  number  bringing  about  a  change,  an 
even  number  maintaining  the  previous  status. 

The  Tempi  and  Superpositions  charts,  however,  remain  unchanged 
through  the  entire  work. 

In  the  charts  for  sounds  thirty-two  of  the  elements  ( the  even  numbers ) 
are  silences.  The  sounds  themselves  are  single,  aggregates  ( cf .  the  accord 
sometimes  obtained  on  a  prepared  piano  when  only  one  key  is  depressed), 
or  complex  situations  ( constellations )  in  time  ( cf .  the  Chinese  characters 
made  with  several  strokes ) .  Sounds  of  indefinite  pitch  ( noises )  are  free  to 
be  used  without  any  restriction.  Those  of  definite  pitch  are  taken  as  being 
twelve  in  number.  In  any  chart  for  sounds  ( there  being  thirty-two  sounds ) 
two  squares  (four  times  four)  exist,  one  above  the  other.  Reading  horizon- 
tally or  vertically,  one  reads  all  twelve  tones.  In  the  case  of  the  mobility  of 
sounds  (disappearance  into  history)  four  in  succession  also  produce  the 
twelve  tones,  with  or  without  noises  and  repetitions.  In  the  case  of  "inter- 
ference" ( the  appearance  of  a  sound  having  characteristics  in  common  with 
the  characteristics  of  the  previously  sounded  situation )  the  characteristics 
that  produce  the  interference  are  omitted  from  the  newly  appearing  sound 
or  cut  short  in  the  situation  that  has  previously  sounded.  In  the  radio  piece, 
numbers  on  a  tuning  dial  are  written  instead  of  sounds,  whatever  happens 
being  acceptable  (station,  static,  silence). 

In  the  charts  for  dynamics  only  sixteen  numbers  produce  changes  ( one, 
five,  nine,  etc. ) ;  the  others  maintain  the  previous  status.  These  are  either 
dynamic  levels  or  accents  (in  the  piano  piece);  levels,  diminuendi,  and 
crescendi  in  the  radio  piece.  In  the  piano  piece,  combinations  of  dynamic 
levels  (e.g.  fff  >p)  indicate  accents;  in  the  case  of  a  sound  complex  in  time 


this  may  become  a  diminuendo  or  (by  retrograde  interpretation)  a  cre- 
scendo, or  derived  complex. 

In  the  charts  for  durations  there  are  sixty -four  elements  ( since  silence 
also  has  length).  Through  use  of  fractions  (e.g.  %;  %  -f-  %  -f-  y2 )  meas- 
ured following  a  standard  scale  (2%  cm.  equals  a  crotchet),  these 
durations  are,  for  the  purposes  of  musical  composition,  practically  infinite 
in  number.  The  note  stem  appears  in  space  at  a  point  corresponding  to  the 
appearance  of  the  sound  in  time,  that  is  if  one  reads  at  the  tempo,  or  chang- 
ing tempo  indicated.  Given  fractions  of  a  quarter,  half,  dotted  half  and 
whole  note  up  to  y8,  simple  addition  of  fractions  is  the  method  employed 
for  the  generating  of  durations.  Because  addition  is  the  generating  means 
employed,  the  durations  may  be  said  to  be  "segmented."  These  segments 
may  be  permuted  and/or  divided  by  two  or  three  ( simple  nodes ) .  A  sound 
may  then  express  the  duration  by  beginning  at  any  one  of  these  several 

A  way  of  relating  durations  to  sounds  has  been  thought  of  in  the  course 
of  this  work  but  not  in  it  utilized:  to  let  four  durations  equal  a  specified 
length  (on  the  chart,  horizontally  or  vertically  and  in  mobility  four  in  suc- 
cession )  —this  specified  length  being  subject  to  change. 

The  chart  for  Tempi  has  thirty-two  elements,  the  blanks  maintaining 
the  previous  tempo. 

Each  one  of  the  events  one  to  eight  is  worked  from  the  beginning  to 
the  end  of  the  composition.  For  instance,  the  eighth  one  is  present  from 
beginning  to  end  but  may  sound  only  during  a  structural  space  that  has 
been  defined  by  a  toss  ( for  Superpositions )  of  fifty-seven  to  sixty-four.  It  is 
then  not  only  present  but  possibly  audible.  It  becomes  actually  audible  if  a 
sound  is  tossed  (rather  than  a  silence)  and  if  the  duration  tossed  is  of  a 
length  that  does  not  carry  the  sound  beyond  the  structural  space  open  to  it. 

It  is  thus  possible  to  make  a  musical  composition  the  continuity  of 
which  is  free  of  individual  taste  and  memory  (psychology)  and  also  of  the 
literature  and  "traditions"  of  the  art.  The  sounds  enter  the  time-space  cen- 
tered within  themselves,  unimpeded  by  service  to  any  abstraction,  their 
360  degrees  of  circumference  free  for  an  infinite  play  of  interpenetration. 

Value  judgments  are  not  in  the  nature  of  this  work  as  regards  either 
composition,  performance,  or  listening.  The  idea  of  relation  (the  idea:  2) 
being  absent,  anything  (the  idea:  1)  may  happen.  A  "mistake"  is  beside 
the  point,  for  once  anything  happens  it  authentically  is. 


This  article,  translated  into  German  by  Christian  Wolff,  first  appeared  in 
Die  Reihe  No.  3  (Vienna,  1957) .  The  English  text  was  printed  in  the  Universal 
Edition  of  Die  Reihe  No.  3,  copyright  1959  by  Theodore  Presser  Co., 
Pennsylvania,  by  whose  permission  it  is  reprinted  here. 

To  Describe  the  Process  of  Composition  Used  in 
M usk  for  Piano  2  7  -52 

1.  Given  ink,  pen,  and  sheets  of  transparent  paper  of  determined  dimensions,  a  master  page 
( without  notations )  is  made,  having  four  total  systems.  "Total"  here  means  having  enough  space 
above  and  below  each  staff  to  permit  its  being  either  bass  or  treble.  Thus,  there  being  the  conven- 
tional two  staves  (one  for  each  hand),  each  has  enough  space  above  it  to  accommodate  nine  ledger 
lines  (as  equidistant  as  those  of  the  staves)  and  below  it  to  accommodate  six  ledger  lines  plus 
(leaving  room  for  the  extreme  low  piano  key  and  string).  Between  the  two  there  is  a  narrow  space, 
bisected  by  a  line,  allowing  for  the  notation  of  noises  produced  by  hand  or  beater  upon  the  interior 
(above  the  line)  or  exterior  (below  the  line)  piano  construction.  Measurements  are  such  that  the 
entire  sheet  ( within  margins )  is  potentially  useful. 

2.  Laying  the  master  page  aside,  chance  operations  derived  from  the  I-Ching  and  channeled 
within  certain  limits  ( 1-128  for  21-36;  1-32  for  37-52)  (which  are  established  in  relation  to  relative 
difficulty  of  performance )  are  employed  to  determine  the  number  of  sounds  per  page. 

3.  A  blank  sheet  of  transparent  paper  is  then  placed  so  that  its  pointal  imperfections  may  readily 
be  observed.  That  number  of  imperfections  corresponding  to  the  determined  number  of  sounds  is 
intensified  with  pencil. 

4.  Placing  the  penciled  sheet  in  a  registered  way  upon  the  master  page,  first  the  staves  and 
interline  and  then  the  ledger  lines  where  necessary  are  inscribed  in  ink.  Secondly,  conventional 
whole  notes  are  written  in  ink  wherever  a  penciled  point  falls  within  the  area  of  staves  or  ledger 
lines,  inked-in  notes  ( crotchets  without  stems )  being  written  wherever  such  a  point  falls  within  the 
space  between  the  two  staves.  This  operation  is  done  roughly,  since,  through  the  use  of  conventional 
lines  and  spaces,  points  falling  in  the  latter  are  in  the  majority.  Thus  it  is  determined  that  a  point, 
though  not  on  a  line,  is  actually  more  nearly  so  than  it  is  at  the  center  of  the  adjacent  space. 

5.  Eight  single  coin  tosses  are  made  determining  the  clefs,  bass  or  treble,  and  inscribed  in  ink. 


6.  The  sixty-four  possibilities  of  the  I-Ching  are  divided  by  chance  operations  into  three  groups 
relative  to  three  categories:  normal  (played  on  the  keyboard);  muted;  and  plucked  (the  two  latter 
played  on  the  strings ) .  For  example,  having  tossed  numbers  6  and  44,  a  number  1  through  5  will 
produce  a  normal;  6  through  43  a  muted;  44  through  64  a  plucked  piano  tone.  A  certain  weight  of 
probability  exists  in  favor  of  the  second  and  third  categories.  Though  this  has  not  appeared  to  be  of 
consequence,  it  indicates  a  possible  change  in  "technique."  The  categories  having  been  determined, 
notations  (M  and  P)  are  conveniently  placed  in  reference  to  the  notes. 

A  similar  procedure  is  followed  to  determine  whether  a  tone  is  natural,  sharp,  or  flat,  the 
procedure  being  altered,  of  course,  for  the  two  extreme  keys  where  only  two  possibilities  exist. 

7.  The  notation  of  the  composition  is  thus  completed.  Much  that  occurs  in  performance  has 
not  been  determined.  Therefore,  the  following  note  is  fixed  at  the  head  of  the  manuscript:  "These 
pieces  constitute  two  groups  of  sixteen  pieces  (21-36;  37-52)  which  may  be  played  alone  or  together 
and  with  or  without  Music  for  Piano  4-19.1  Their  length  in  time  is  free;  there  may  or  may  not  be 
silence  between  them;  they  may  be  overlapped.  Given  a  programed  time  length,  the  pianists  may 
make  a  calculation  such  that  their  concert  will  fill  it.  Duration  of  individual  tones  and  dynamics  are 


A  performance  is  characterized  by  the  programed  time  length  calculated  beforehand  and  adhered 
to  through  the  use  of  a  stop  watch.  This  is  primarily  of  use  in  relation  to  an  entire  page,  secondarily 
of  use  in  relation,  to  say,  a  system;  for  it  is  possible  that,  though  the  space  of  the  page  is  here  equal  to 
time,  the  performance  being  realized  by  a  human  being  rather  than  a  machine,  such  space  may  be 
interpreted  as  moving,  not  only  constantly,  but  faster  or  slower.  Thus,  finally,  nothing  has  been 
determined  by  the  notation  as  far  as  performance  time  is  concerned.  And,  as  concerns  timbre  (the 
noises,  the  three  categories )  next  to  nothing  has  been  determined.  This  is  especially  the  case  where 
P  is  interpreted  as  meaning  a  plucked  muted  string  or  M  a  muted  plucked  string.  Nor,  indeed,  have 
the  points  on  the  strings  where  these  latter  operations  are  to  be  made  been  indicated.  And— and  this 
may  be  considered  a  fundamental  omission— nothing  has  been  indicated  regarding  the  architecture 
of  the  room  in  which  the  music  is  to  be  played  and  the  placement  ( customarily  distant  one  from 
another)  of  the  instruments  (how  many?)  therein.  All  these  elements,  evidently  of  paramount 
importance,  point  the  question:  What  has  been  composed?     ^ 

1  The  composition  of  these  pieces  followed  a  different  procedure  and,  furthermore,  did  not  include  interior  and 
exterior  construction  noises. 


This  article  first  appeared  in  the  March  1949  issue  of  The  Tiger's  Eye,  a 
journal  edited  by  Ruth  and  John  Stephan  from  Bleecker  Street  in  New  York. 
It  was  translated  into  French  by  Frederick  Goldbeck,  who  changed  the  title 
to  Raison  d'etre  de  la  musique  moderne.  This  was  published  in  Contrepoints 
(Paris)  later  in  the  same  year. 



The  purpose  of  music 

Music  is  edifying,  for  from  time  to  time  it  sets  the  soul  in  operation.  The  soul  is  the 
gatherer-together  of  the  disparate  elements  (Meister  Eckhart),  and  its  work  fills 
one  with  peace  and  love. 


Structure  in  music  is  its  divisibility  into  successive  parts  from  phrases  to  long 
sections.  Form  is  content,  the  continuity.  Method  is  the  means  of  controlling  the 
continuity  from  note  to  note.  The  material  of  music  is  sound  and  silence.  Inte- 
grating these  is  composing. 

Structure  is  properly  mind-controlled.  Both  delight  in  precision,  clarity,  and  the 
observance  of  rules.  Whereas  form  wants  only  freedom  to  be.  It  belongs  to  the 
heart;  and  the  law  it  observes,  if  indeed  it  submits  to  any,  has  never  been  and  never 
will  be  written.1  Method  may  be  planned  or  improvised  (it  makes  no  difference: 
in  one  case,  the  emphasis  shifts  towards  thinking,  in  the  other  towards  feeling;  a 
piece  for  radios  as  instruments  would  give  up  the  matter  of  method  to  accident). 
Likewise,  material  may  be  controlled  or  not,  as  one  chooses.  Normally  the  choice 
of  sounds  is  determined  by  what  is  pleasing  and  attractive  to  the  ear:  delight  in 
the  giving  or  receiving  of  pain  being  an  indication  of  sickness. 

1  Any  attempt  to  exclude  the  "irrational"  is  irrational.  Any  composing  strategy  which  is  wholly  "rational"  is 
irrational  in  the  extreme. 



Activity  involving  in  a  single  process  the  many,  turning  them,  even  though  some 
seem  to  be  opposites,  towards  oneness,  contributes  to  a  good  way  of  life. 

The  plot  thickens 

When  asked  why,  God  being  good,  there  was  evil  in  the  world,  Sri  Ramakrishna  said: 
To  thicken  the  plot. 

The  aspect  of  composition  that  can  properly  be  discussed  with  the  end  in  view  of 
general  agreement  is  structure,  for  it  is  devoid  of  mystery.  Analysis  is  at  home  here. 

Schools  teach  the  making  of  structures  by  means  of  classical  harmony.  Out- 
side school,  however  (e.g.,  Satie  and  Webern),  a  different  and  correct2  structural 
means  reappears :  one  based  on  lengths  of  time.3, 4 

In  the  Orient,  harmonic  structure  is  traditionally  unknown,  and  unknown 
with  us  in  our  pre-Renaissance  culture.  Harmonic  structure  is  a  recent  Occidental 
phenomenon,  for  the  past  century  in  a  process  of  disintegration.5 
Atonality 6  has  happened 

The  disintegration  of  harmonic  structure  is  commonly  known  as  atonality.  All  that 
is  meant  is  that  two  necessary  elements  in  harmonic  structure— the  cadence,  and 
modulating  means— have  lost  their  edge.  Increasingly,  they  have  become  ambig- 
uous, whereas  their  very  existence  as  structural  elements  demands  clarity  ( single- 
ness of  reference) .  Atonality  is  simply  the  maintenance  of  an  ambiguous  tonal  state 
of  affairs.  It  is  the  denial  of  harmony  as  a  structural  means.  The  problem  of  a 
composer  in  a  musical  world  in  this  state  is  to  supply  another  structural  means,7 

'  Sound  has  four  characteristics:  pitch,  timbre,  loudness,  and  duration.  The  opposite  and  necessary  coexistent 
of  sound  is  silence.  Of  the  four  characteristics  of  sound,  only  duration  involves  both  sound  and  silence.  Therefore, 
a  structure  based  on  durations  (rhythmic:  phrase,  time  lengths)  is  correct  (corresponds  with  the  nature  of  the 
material ) ,  whereas  harmonic  structure  is  incorrect  ( derived  from  pitch,  which  has  no  being  in  silence ) . 

*  This  never  disappeared  from  jazz  and  folk  music.  On  the  other  hand,  it  never  developed  in  them,  for  they 
are  not  cultivated  species,  growing  best  when  left  wild. 

4  Tala  is  based  on  pulsation,  Western  rhythmic  structure  on  phraseology. 
8  For  an  interesting,  detailed  proof  of  this,  see  Casella's  book  on  the  cadence. 

*  The  term  "atonality"  makes  no  sense.  Schoenberg  substitutes  "pantonality,"  Lou  Harrison  ( to  my  mind  and 
experience  the  preferable  term)  "proto-tonality."  This  last  term  suggests  what  is  actually  the  case:  present  even  in 
a  random  multiplicity  of  tones  (or,  better,  sounds  [so  as  to  include  noises]),  is  a  gravity,  original  and  natural, 
"proto,"  to  that  particular  situation.  Elementary  composition  consists  in  discovering  the  ground  of  the  sounds  em- 
ployed, and  then  letting  life  take  place  both  on  land  and  in  the  air. 

7  Neither  Schoenberg  nor  Stravinsky  did  this.  The  twelve-tone  row  does  not  offer  a  structural  means;  it  is  a 
method,  a  control,  not  of  the  parts,  large  and  small,  of  a  composition,  but  only  of  the  minute,  note-to-note  pro- 
cedure. It  usurps  the  place  of  counterpoint,  which,  as  Carl  Ruggles,  Lou  Harrison,  and  Merton  Brown  have  shown, 
is  perfectly  capable  of  functioning  in  a  chromatic  situation.  Neo-classicism,  in  reverting  to  the  past,  avoids,  by 
refusing  to  recognize,  the  contemporary  need  for  another  structure,  gives  a  new  look  to  structural  harmony.  This 
automatically  deprives  it  of  the  sense  of  adventure,  essential  to  creative  action. 


just  as  in  a  bombed-out  city  the  opportunity  to  build  again  exists.8  This  way  one 
finds  courage  and  a  sense  of  necessity. 

Interlude  (Meister  Eckhart) 

"But  one  must  achieve  this  unselfconsciousness  by  means  of  transformed  knowl- 
edge. This  ignorance  does  not  come  from  lack  of  knowledge  but  rather  it  is  from 
knowledge  that  one  may  achieve  this  ignorance.  Then  we  shall  be  informed  by 
the  divine  unconsciousness  and  in  that  our  ignorance  will  be  ennobled  and  adorned 
with  supernatural  knowledge.  It  is  by  reason  of  this  fact  that  we  are  made  perfect 
by  what  happens  to  us  rather  than  by  what  we  do." 

At  random 

Music  means  nothing  as  a  thing. 

A  finished  work  is  exactly  that,  requires  resurrection. 

The  responsibility  of  the  artist  consists  in  perfecting  his  work  so  that  it  may  become  attractively  disinteresting. 

It  is  better  to  make  a  piece  of  music  than  to  perform  one,  better  to  perform  one  than  to  listen  to  one,  better  to 
listen  to  one  than  to  misuse  it  as  a  means  of  distraction,  entertainment,  or  acquisition  of  "culture." 

Use  any  means  to  keep  from  being  a  genius,  all  means  to  become  one. 

Is  counterpoint  good?  "The  soul  itself  is  so  simple  that  it  cannot  have  more  than  one  idea  at  a  time  of  anything. . . . 
A  person  cannot  be  more  than  single  in  attention."  (Eckhart) 

Freed  from  structural  responsibility,  harmony  becomes  a  formal  element  (serves  expression). 

Imitating  either  oneself  or  others,  care  should  be  taken  to  imitate  structure,  not  form  (also  structural  materials 
and  structural  methods,  not  formal  materials  and  formal  methods ) ,  disciplines,  not  dreams;  thus  one  remains  "inno- 
cent and  free  to  receive  anew  with  each  Now-moment  a  heavenly  gift."  ( Eckhart ) 

If  the  mind  is  disciplined,  the  heart  turns  quickly  from  fear  towards  love. 

Before  making  a  structure  by  means  of  rhythm,  it  is  necessary  to  decide  what  rhythm  is. 

This  could  be  a  difficult  decision  to  make  if  the  concern  were  formal  (expressive) 
or  to  do  with  method  (point  to  point  procedure);  but  since  the  concern  is  struc- 
tural (to  do  with  divisibility  of  a  composition  into  parts  large  and  small),  the 
decision  is  easily  reached:  rhythm  in  the  structural  instance  is  relationships  of 
lengths  of  time.9  Such  matters,  then,  as  accents  on  or  off  the  beat,  regularly  re- 
curring or  not,  pulsation  with  or  without  accent,  steady  or  unsteady,  durations 
motivically  conceived   (either  static  or  to  be  varied),  are  matters  for  formal 

8  The  twelve-tone  row  offers  bricks  but  no  plan.  The  neo-classicists  advise  building  it  the  way  it  was  before, 
but  surfaced  fashionably. 

B  Measure  is  literally  measure— nothing  more,  for  example,  than  the  inch  of  a  ruler— thus  permitting  the 
existence  of  any  durations,  any  amplitude  relations  (meter,  accent),  any  silences. 



( expressive )  use,  or,  if  thought  about,  to  be  considered  as  material  ( in  its  "textural" 
aspect)  or  as  serving  method.  In  the  case  of  a  year,  rhythmic  structure  is  a  matter  of 
seasons,  months,  weeks,  and  days.  Other  time  lengths  such  as  that  taken  by  a  fire 
or  the  playing  of  a  piece  of  music  occur  accidentally  or  freely  without  explicit  recog- 
nition of  an  all-embracing  order,  but  nevertheless,  necessarily  within  that  order. 
Coincidences  of  free  events  with  structural  time  points  have  a  special  luminous 
character,  because  the  paradoxical  nature  of  truth  is  at  such  moments  made  ap- 
parent. Caesurae  on  the  other  hand  are  expressive  of  the  independence  ( accidental 
or  willed )  of  freedom  from  law,  law  from  freedom. 

Any  sounds  of  any  qualities  and  pitches  (known  or  unknown,  definite  or  indefi- 
nite), any  contexts  of  these,  simple  or  multiple,  are  natural  and  conceivable  within 
a  rhythmic  structure  which  equally  embraces  silence.  Such  a  claim  is  remarkably 
like  the  claims  to  be  found  in  patent  specifications  for  and  articles  about  tech- 
nological musical  means  ( see  early  issues  of  Modern  Music  and  the  Journal  of  the 
Acoustical  Society  of  America).  From  differing  beginning  points,  towards  possibly 
different  goals,  technologists  and  artists  (seemingly  by  accident)  meet  by  inter- 
section, becoming  aware  of  the  otherwise  unknowable  ( conjunction  of  the  in  and 
the  out),  imagining  brightly  a  common  goal  in  the  world  and  in  the  quietness 
within  each  human  being. 

Just  as  art  as  sand  painting  ( art  for  the  now-moment 10  rather  than  for  posterity's 
museum  civilization)  becomes  a  held  point  of  view,  adventurous  workers  in  the 
field  of  synthetic  music  (e.g.  Norman  McLaren)  find  that  for  practical  and  eco- 
nomic reasons  work  with  magnetic  wires  (any  music  so  made  can  quickly  and 
easily  be  erased,  rubbed  off)  is  preferable  to  that  with  film.11 

The  use  of  technological  means 12  requires  the  close  anonymous  collaboration 
of  a  number  of  workers.  We  are  on  the  point  of  being  in  a  cultural  situation,13 

10  This  is  the  very  nature  of  the  dance,  of  the  performance  of  music,  or  any  other  art  requiring  performance 
(for  this  reason,  the  term  "sand  painting"  is  used:  there  is  a  tendency  in  painting  (permanent  pigments),  as  in 
poetry  (printing,  binding),  to  be  secure  in  the  thingness  of  a  work,  and  thus  to  overlook,  and  place  nearly  insur- 
mountable obstacles  in  the  path  of,  instantaneous  ecstasy). 

11  Twenty-four  or  n  frames  per  second  is  the  "canvas"  upon  which  this  music  is  written;  thus,  in  a  very 
obvious  way,  the  material  itself  demonstrates  the  necessity  for  time  (rhythmic)  structure.  With  magnetic  means, 
freedom  from  the  frame  of  film  means  exists,  but  the  principle  of  rhythmic  structure  should  hold  over  as,  in  geom- 
etry, a  more  elementary  theorem  remains  as  a  premise  to  make  possible  the  obtaining  of  those  more  advanced. 

u  "I  want  to  be  as  though  new-born,  knowing  nothing,  absolutely  nothing  about  Europe."  (Paul  Klee) 
13  Replete  with  new  concert  halls :  the  movie  houses  ( vacated  by  home  television  fans,  and  too  numerous  for 
a  Hollywood  whose  only  alternative  is  "seriousness" ) . 


For  instance: 

without  having  made  any  special  effort  to  get  into  one1*  (if  one  can  discount 

The  in-the-heart  path  of  music  leads  now  to  self-knowledge  through  self- 
denial,  and  its  in-the-world  path  leads  likewise  to  selflessness.15  The  heights  that 
now  are  reached  by  single  individuals  at  special  moments  may  soon  be  densely 

"  Painting  in  becoming  literally  (actually)  realistic— (this  is  the  twentieth  century)  seen  from  above,  the  earth, 
snow-covered,  a  composition  of  order  superimposed  on  the  "spontaneous"  (Cummings)  or  of  the  latter  letting 
order  be  (from  above,  so  together,  the  opposites,  they  fuse)  (one  has  only  to  fly  [highways  and  topography, 
Milarepa,  Henry  Ford]  to  know)— automatically  will  reach  the  same  point  (step  by  step)  the  soul  leaped  to. 

"  The  machine  fathers  mothers  heroes  saints  of  the  mythological  order,  works  only  when  it  meets  with 
acquiescence  (cf.  The  King  and  the  Corpse,  by  Heinrich  Zimmer,  edited  by  Joseph  Campbell). 

Peggy  Guggenheim,  Santomaso,  and  I  were  in  a  Venetian  restaurant.  There  were  only  two  other 
people  dining  in  the  same  room  and  they  were  not  conversing.  I  got  to  expressing  my  changed  views  with 
regard  to  the  French  and  the  Italians.  I  said  that  I  had  years  before  preferred  the  French  because  of  their 
intelligence  and  had  found  the  Italians  playful  but  intellectually  not  engaging;  that  recently,  however,  I 
found  the  French  cold  in  spirit  and  lacking  in  freedom  of  the  mind,  whereas  the  Italians  seemed  warm 
and  surprising.  Then  it  occurred  to  me  that  the  couple  in  the  room  were  French.  I  called  across  to  them 
and  said,  "Are  you  French?"  The  lady  replied.  "We  are,"  she  said,  "but  we  agree  with  you  completely." 

Richard  Lippold  called  up  and  said,  "Would  you  come  to  dinner  and  bring  the  I-Ching?"  I  said  I 
would.  It  turned  out  he'd  written  a  letter  to  the  Metropolitan  proposing  that  he  be  commissioned  for  a 
certain  figure  to  do  The  Sun.  This  letter  withheld  nothing  about  the  excellence  of  his  art,  and  so  he 
hesitated  to  send  it,  not  wishing  to  seem  presumptuous.  Using  the  coin  oracle,  we  consulted  the  I-Ching. 
It  mentioned  a  letter.  Advice  to  send  it  was  given.  Success  was  promised,  but  the  need  for  patience  was 
mentioned.  A  few  weeks  later,  Richard  Lippold  called  to  say  that  his  proposal  had  been  answered  but 
without  commitment,  and  that  that  should  make  clear  to  me  as  it  did  to  him  what  to  think  of  the  I-Ching. 
A  year  passed.  The  Metropolitan  Museum  finally  commissioned  The  Sun.  Richard  Lippold  still  does  not 
see  eye  to  eye  with  me  on  the  subject  of  chance  operations. 

The  question  of  leading  tones  came  up  in  the  class  in  experimental  composition  that  I  give  at  the 
New  School.  I  said,  "You  surely  aren't  talking  about  ascending  half-steps  in  diatonic  music.  Is  it  not  true 
that  anything  leads  to  whatever  follows?"  But  the  situation  is  more  complex,  for  things  also  lead  back- 
wards in  time.  This  also  does  not  give  a  picture  that  corresponds  with  reality.  For,  it  is  said,  the  Buddha's 
enlightenment  penetrated  in  every  direction  to  every  point  in  space  and  time. 


The  following  article  was  written  at  the  request  of  Dr.  Wolfgang  Steinecke, 
Director  of  the  Internationale  Ferienkiirse  fiir  Neue  Musik  at  Darmstadt.  The 
German  translation  by  Heinz  Klaus  Metzger  was  published  in  the  1959  issue 
of  Darmstadter  Beitrage.  The  statement  by  Christian  Wolff  quoted  herein  is 
from  his  article  "New  and  Electronic  Music,"  copyright  1958  by  the  Audience 
Press,  and  reprinted  by  permission  from  Audience,  Volume  V,  Number  3, 
Summer  1958. 


Once  when  Daisetz  Teitaro  Suzuki  was  giving  a  talk  at  Columbia  Uni- 
versity he  mentioned  the  name  of  a  Chinese  monk  who  had  figured  in  the 
history  of  Chinese  Buddhism.  Suzuki  said,  "He  lived  in  the  ninth  or  the 
tenth  century."  He  added,  after  a  pause,  "Or  the  eleventh  century,  or  the 
twelfth  or  thirteenth  century  or  the  fourteenth." 

About  the  same  time,  Willem  de  Kooning,  the  New  York  painter,  gave 
a  talk  at  the  Art  Alliance  in  Philadelphia.  Afterwards  there  was  a  discus- 
sion: questions  and  answers.  Someone  asked  De  Kooning  who  the  painters 
of  the  past  were  who  had  influenced  him  the  most.  De  Kooning  said,  "The 
past  does  not  influence  me;  I  influence  it." 

A  little  over  ten  years  ago  I  acted  as  music  editor  for  a  magazine  called 
Possibilities.  Only  one  issue  of  this  magazine  appeared.  However:  in  it,  four 
American  composers  (Virgil  Thomson,  Edgard  Varese,  Ben  Weber,  and 
Alexei  Haieff )  answered  questions  put  to  them  by  twenty  other  composers. 
My  question  to  Varese  concerned  his  views  of  the  future  of  music.  His  an- 
swer was  that  neither  the  past  nor  the  future  interested  him;  that  his  con- 
cern was  with  the  present. 

Sri  Ramakrishna  was  once  asked,  "Why,  if  God  is  good,  is  there  evil  in 
the  world?"  He  said,  "In  order  to  thicken  the  plot."  Nowadays  in  the  field  of 
music,  we  often  hear  that  everything  is  possible;  ( for  instance )  that  with 
electronic  means  one  may  employ  any  sound  (any  frequency,  any  ampli- 
tude, any  timbre,  any  duration) ;  that  there  are  no  limits  to  possibility.  This 


is  technically,  nowadays,  theoretically  possible  and  in  practical  terms  is 
often  felt  to  be  impossible  only  because  of  the  absence  of  mechanical  aids 
which,  nevertheless,  could  be  provided  if  the  society  felt  the  urgency  of 
musical  advance.  Debussy  said  quite  some  time  ago,  "Any  sounds  in  any 
combination  and  in  any  succession  are  henceforth  free  to  be  used  in  a 
musical  continuity."  Paraphrasing  the  question  put  to  Sri  Ramakrishna  and 
the  answer  he  gave,  I  would  ask  this:  "Why,  if  everything  is  possible,  do  we 
concern  ourselves  with  history  (in  other  words  with  a  sense  of  what  is 
necessary  to  be  done  at  a  particular  time?"  And  I  would  answer,  "In  order 
to  thicken  the  plot."  In  this  view,  then,  all  those  interpenetrations  which 
seem  at  first  glance  to  be  hellish— history,  for  instance,  if  we  are  speaking 
of  experimental  music— are  to  be  espoused.  One  does  not  then  make  just 
any  experiment  but  does  what  must  be  done.  By  this  I  mean  one  does  not 
seek  by  his  actions  to  arrive  at  money  but  does  what  must  be  done;  one 
does  not  seek  by  his  actions  to  arrive  at  fame  ( success )  but  does  what  must 
be  done;  one  does  not  seek  by  his  actions  to  provide  pleasure  to  the  senses 
( beauty )  but  does  what  must  be  done;  one  does  not  seek  by  his  actions  to 
arrive  at  the  establishing  of  a  school  (truth)  but  does  what  must  be  done. 
One  does  something  else.  What  else? 

In  an  article  called  "New  and  Electronic  Music,"  Christian  Wolff  says: 
"What  is,  or  seems  to  be,  new  in  this  music?  .  .  .  One  finds  a  concern  for  a 
kind  of  objectivity,  almost  anonymity— sound  come  into  its  own.  The  'music' 
is  a  resultant  existing  simply  in  the  sounds  we  hear,  given  no  impulse  by  ex- 
pressions of  self  or  personality.  It  is  indifferent  in  motive,  originating  in  no 
psychology  nor  in  dramatic  intentions,  nor  in  literary  or  pictorial  purposes. 
For  at  least  some  of  these  composers,  then,  the  final  intention  is  to  be  free 
of  artistry  and  taste.  But  this  need  not  make  their  work  'abstract/  for  noth- 
ing, in  the  end,  is  denied.  It  is  simply  that  personal  expression,  drama, 
psychology,  and  the  like  are  not  part  of  the  composer's  initial  calculation: 
they  are  at  best  gratuitous. 

"The  procedure  of  composing  tends  to  be  radical,  going  directly  to  the 
sounds  and  their  characteristics,  to  the  way  in  which  they  are  produced  and 
how  they  are  notated." 

"Sound  come  into  its  own."  What  does  that  mean?  For  one  thing:  it 
means  that  noises  are  as  useful  to  new  music  as  so-called  musical  tones,  for 
the  simple  reason  that  they  are  sounds.  This  decision  alters  the  view  of 


history,  so  that  one  is  no  longer  concerned  with  tonality  or  atonality, 
Schoenberg  or  Stravinsky  (the  twelve  tones  or  the  twelve  expressed  as 
seven  plus  five),  nor  with  consonance  and  dissonance,  but  rather  with 
Edgard  Varese  who  fathered  forth  noise  into  twentieth-century  music.  But 
it  is  clear  that  ways  must  be  discovered  that  allow  noises  and  tones  to  be 
just  noises  and  tones,  not  exponents  subservient  to  Varese's  imagination. 

What  else  did  Varese  do  that  is  relevant  to  present  necessity?  He  was 
the  first  to  write  directly  for  instruments,  giving  up  the  practice  of  making 
a  piano  sketch  and  later  orchestrating  it.  What  is  unnecessary  in  Varese 
( from  a  present  point  of  view  of  necessity )  are  all  his  mannerisms,  of  which 
two  stand  out  as  signatures  (the  repeated  note  resembling  a  telegraphic 
transmission  and  the  cadence  of  a  tone  held  through  a  crescendo  to  maxi- 
mum amplitude).  These  mannerisms  do  not  establish  sounds  in  their  own 
right.  They  make  it  quite  difficult  to  hear  the  sounds  just  as  they  are,  for 
they  draw  attention  to  Varese  and  his  imagination. 

What  is  the  nature  of  an  experimental  action?  It  is  simply  an  action 
the  outcome  of  which  is  not  foreseen.  It  is  therefore  very  useful  if  one  has 
decided  that  sounds  are  to  come  into  their  own,  rather  than  being  exploited 
to  express  sentiments  or  ideas  of  order.  Among  those  actions  the  outcomes 
of  which  are  not  foreseen,  actions  resulting  from  chance  operations  are  use- 
ful. However,  more  essential  than  composing  by  means  of  chance  opera- 
tions, it  seems  to  me  now,  is  composing  in  such  a  way  that  what  one  does 
is  indeterminate  of  its  performance.  In  such  a  case  one  can  just  work 
directly,  for  nothing  one  does  gives  rise  to  anything  that  is  preconceived. 
This  necessitates,  of  course,  a  rather  great  change  in  habits  of  notation.  I 
take  a  sheet  of  paper  and  place  points  on  it.  Next  I  make  parallel  fines  on 
a  transparency,  say  five  parallel  lines.  I  establish  five  categories  of  sound 
for  the  five  lines,  but  I  do  not  say  which  fine  is  which  category.  The  trans- 
parency may  be  placed  on  the  sheet  with  points  in  any  position  and  read- 
ings of  the  points  may  be  taken  with  regard  to  all  the  characteristics  one 
wishes  to  distinguish.  Another  transparency  may  be  used  for  further  meas- 
urements, even  altering  the  succession  of  sounds  in  time.  In  this  situation 
no  chance  operations  are  necessary  ( for  instance,  no  tossing  of  coins )  for 
nothing  is  foreseen,  though  everything  may  be  later  minutely  measured  or 
simply  taken  as  a  vague  suggestion. 

Implicit  here,  it  seems  to  me,  are  principles  familiar  from  modern 


painting  and  architecture:  collage  and  space.  What  makes  this  action  like 
Dada  are  the  underlying  philosophical  views  and  the  collagelike  actions. 
But  what  makes  this  action  unlike  Dada  is  the  space  in  it.  For  it  is  the  space 
and  emptiness  that  is  finally  urgently  necessary  at  this  point  in  history 
(not  the  sounds  that  happen  in  it— or  their  relationships)  (not  the  stones- 
thinking  of  a  Japanese  stone  garden— or  their  relationships  but  the  empti- 
ness of  the  sand  which  needs  the  stones  anywhere  in  the  space  in  order  to 
be  empty).  When  I  said  recently  in  Darmstadt  that  one  could  write  music 
by  observing  the  imperfections  in  the  paper  upon  which  one  was  writing,  a 
student  who  did  not  understand  because  he  was  full  of  musical  ideas  asked, 
"Would  one  piece  of  paper  be  better  than  another:  one  for  instance  that 
had  more  imperfections?"  He  was  attached  to  sounds  and  because  of  his 
attachment  could  not  let  sounds  be  just  sounds.  He  needed  to  attach  himself 
to  the  emptiness,  to  the  silence.  Then  things— sounds,  that  is— would  come 
into  being  of  themselves.  Why  is  this  so  necessary  that  sounds  should  be 
just  sounds?  There  are  many  ways  of  saying  why.  One  is  this:  In  order  that 
each  sound  may  become  the  Buddha.  If  that  is  too  Oriental  an  expression, 
take  the  Christian  Gnostic  statement:  "Split  the  stick  and  there  is  Jesus." 

We  know  now  that  sounds  and  noises  are  not  just  frequencies 
( pitches ) :  that  is  why  so  much  of  European  musical  studies  and  even  so 
much  of  modern  music  is  no  longer  urgently  necessary.  It  is  pleasant  if  you 
happen  to  hear  Beethoven  or  Chopin  or  whatever,  but  it  isn't  urgent  to  do 
so  any  more.  Nor  is  harmony  or  counterpoint  or  counting  in  meters  of  two, 
three,  or  four  or  any  other  number.  So  that  much  of  Ives  ( Charles  Ives )  is 
no  longer  experimental  or  necessary  for  us  (though  people  are  so  used  to 
knowing  that  he  was  the  first  to  do  such  and  such).  He  did  do  things  in 
space  and  in  collage,  and  he  did  say,  Do  this  or  this  (whichever  you 
choose),  and  so  indeterminacy  which  is  so  essential  now  did  enter  into  his 
music.  But  his  meters  and  rhythms  are  no  longer  any  more  important  for 
us  than  curiosities  of  the  past  like  the  patterns  one  finds  in  Stravinsky. 
Counting  is  no  longer  necessary  for  magnetic  tape  music  ( where  so  many 
inches  or  centimeters  equal  so  many  seconds ) :  magnetic  tape  music  makes 
it  clear  that  we  are  in  time  itself,  not  in  measures  of  two,  three,  or  four  or 
any  other  number.  And  so  instead  of  counting  we  use  watches  if  we  want 
to  know  where  in  time  we  are,  or  rather  where  in  time  a  sound  is  to  be.  All 
this  can  be  summed  up  by  saying  each  aspect  of  sound  (frequency,  ampli- 


tude,  timbre,  duration )  is  to  be  seen  as  a  continuum,  not  as  a  series  of  dis- 
crete steps  favored  by  conventions  (Occidental  or  Oriental).  (Clearly  all 
the  Americana  aspects  of  Ives  are  in  the  way  of  sound  coming  into  its  own, 
since  sounds  by  their  nature  are  no  more  American  than  they  are  Egyptian. ) 
Carl  Ruggles?  He  works  and  reworks  a  handful  of  compositions  so  that 
they  better  and  better  express  his  intentions,  which  perhaps  ever  so  slightly 
are  changing.  His  work  is  therefore  not  experimental  at  all  but  in  a  most 
sophisticated  way  attached  to  the  past  and  to  art. 

Henry  Cowell  was  for  many  years  the  open  sesame  for  new  music  in 
America.  Most  selflessly  he  published  the  New  Music  Edition  and  encour- 
aged the  young  to  discover  new  directions.  From  him,  as  from  an  efficient 
information  booth,  you  could  always  get  not  only  the  address  and  telephone 
number  of  anyone  working  in  a  lively  way  in  music,  but  you  could  also  get 
an  unbiased  introduction  from  him  as  to  what  that  anyone  was  doing.  He 
was  not  attached  (as  Varese  also  was  not  attached)  to  what  seemed  to  so 
many  to  be  the  important  question:  Whether  to  follow  Schoenberg  or 
Stravinsky.  His  early  works  for  piano,  long  before  Varese's  Ionization 
(which,  by  the  way,  was  published  by  Cowell),  by  their  tone  clusters  and 
use  of  the  piano  strings,  pointed  towards  noise  and  a  continuum  of  timbre. 
Other  works  of  his  are  indeterminate  in  ways  analogous  to  those  currently 
in  use  by  Boulez  and  Stockhausen.  For  example:  Cowell's  Mosaic  Quartet, 
where  the  performers,  in  any  way  they  choose,  produce  a  continuity  from 
composed  blocks  provided  by  him.  Or  his  Elastic  Musics,  the  time  lengths 
of  which  can  be  short  or  long  through  the  use  or  omission  of  measures 
provided  by  him.  These  actions  by  Cowell  are  very  close  to  current  experi- 
mental compositions  which  have  parts  but  no  scores,  and  which  are  there- 
fore not  objects  but  processes  providing  experience  not  burdened  by 
psychological  intentions  on  the  part  of  the  composer. 

And  in  connection  with  musical  continuity,  Cowell  remarked  at  the 
New  School  before  a  concert  of  works  by  Christian  Wolff,  Earle  Brown, 
Morton  Feldman,  and  myself,  that  here  were  four  composers  who  were 
getting  rid  of  glue.  That  is:  Where  people  had  felt  the  necessity  to  stick 
sounds  together  to  make  a  continuity,  we  four  felt  the  opposite  necessity  to 
get  rid  of  the  glue  so  that  sounds  would  be  themselves. 

Christian  Wolff  was  the  first  to  do  this.  He  wrote  some  pieces  vertically 
on  the  page  but  recommended  their  being  played  horizontally  left  to  right, 


as  is  conventional.  Later  he  discovered  other  geometrical  means  for  freeing 
his  music  of  intentional  continuity.  Morton  Feldman  divided  pitches  into 
three  areas,  high,  middle,  and  low,  and  established  a  time  unit.  Writing  on 
graph  paper,  he  simply  inscribed  numbers  of  tones  to  be  played  at  any 
time  within  specified  periods  of  time. 

There  are  people  who  say,  "If  music's  that  easy  to  write,  I  could  do  it." 
Of  course  they  could,  but  they  don't.  I  find  Feldman's  own  statement  more 
affirmative.  We  were  driving  back  from  some  place  in  New  England  where 
a  concert  had  been  given.  He  is  a  large  man  and  falls  asleep  easily.  Out  of 
a  sound  sleep,  he  awoke  to  say,  "Now  that  things  are  so  simple,  there's  so 
much  to  do."  And  then  he  went  back  to  sleep. 

Giving  up  control  so  that  sounds  can  be  sounds  (they  are  not  men: 
they  are  sounds)  means  for  instance:  the  conductor  of  an  orchestra  is  no 
longer  a  policeman.  Simply  an  indicator  of  time— not  in  beats— like  a  chro- 
nometer. He  has  his  own  part.  Actually  he  is  not  necessary  if  all  the  players 
have  some  other  way  of  knowing  what  time  it  is  and  how  that  time  is 

What  else  is  there  to  say  about  the  history  of  experimental  music  in 
America?  Probably  a  lot.  But  we  don't  need  to  talk  about  neo-classicism 
(I  agree  with  Varese  when  he  says  neo-classicism  is  indicative  of  intel- 
lectual poverty ),  nor  about  the  twelve-tone  system.  In  Europe,  the  number 
twelve  has  already  been  dropped  and  in  a  recent  lecture  Stockhausen  ques- 
tions the  current  necessity  for  the  concept  of  a  series.  ElliottjCarter's  ideas 
about  rhythmic  modulation  are  not  experimental.  They  just  extend  sophis- 
tication out  from  tonality  ideas  towards  ideas  about  modulation  from  one 
tempo  to  another.  They  put  a  new  wing  on  the  academy  and  open  no  doors 
to  the  world  outside  the  school.  Cowell's  present  interests  in  the  various 
traditions,  Oriental  and  early  American,  are  not  experimental  but  eclectic. 
Jazz  per  se  derives  from  serious  music.  And  when  serious  music  derives 
from  it,  the  situation  becomes  rather  silly. 

One  must  make  an  exception  in  the  case  of  William  Russell.  Though 
still  living,  he  no  longer  composes.  His  works,  though  stemming  from  jazz 
—hot  jazz— New  Orleans  and  Chicago  styles— were  short,  epigrammatic, 
original,  and  entirely  interesting.  It  may  be  suspected  that  he  lacked  the 
academic  skills  which  would  have  enabled  him  to  extend  and  develop  his 
ideas.  The  fact  is,  his  pieces  were  all  expositions  without  development  and 


therefore,  even  today,  twenty  years  after  their  composition,  interesting  to 
hear.  He  used  string  drums  made  from  kerosene  cans,  washboards,  out-of- 
tune  upright  pianos;  he  cut  a  board  such  a  length  that  it  could  be  used  to 
play  all  the  eighty-eight  piano  keys  at  once. 

If  one  uses  the  word  "experimental"  ( somewhat  differently  than  I  have 
been  using  it)  to  mean  simply  the  introduction  of  novel  elements  into  one's 
music,  we  find  that  America  has  a  rich  history:  the  clusters  of  Leo  Ornstein, 
the  resonances  of  Dane  Rudhyar,  the  near-Eastern  aspects  of  Alan  Hov- 
haness,  the  tack  piano  of  Lou  Harrison,  my  own  prepared  piano,  the  dis- 
tribution in  space  of  instrumental  ensembles  in  works  by  Henry  Brant,  the 
sliding  tones  of  Ruth  Crawford  and,  more  recently,  Gunther  Schuller,  the 
microtones  and  novel  instruments  of  Harry  Partch,  the  athematic  continu- 
ity of  cliches  of  Virgil  Thomson.  These  are  not  experimental  composers  in 
my  terminology,  but  neither  are  they  part  of  the  stream  of  European  music 
which  though  formerly  divided  into  neo-classicism  and  dodecaphony  has 
become  one  in  America  under  Arthur  Berger's  term,  consolidation:  consoli- 
dation of  the  acquisitions  of  Schoenberg  and  Stravinsky. 

Actually  America  has  an  intellectual  climate  suitable  for  radical  ex- 
perimentation. We  are,  as  Gertrude  Stein  said,  the  oldest  country  of  the 
twentieth  century.  And  I  like  to  add:  in  our  air  way  of  knowing  nowness. 
Buckminster  Fuller,  the  dymaxion  architect,  in  his  three-hour  lecture  on 
the  history  of  civilization,  explains  that  men  leaving  Asia  to  go  to  Europe 
went  against  the  wind  and  developed  machines,  ideas,  and  Occidental 
philosophies  in  accord  with  a  struggle  against  nature;  that,  on  the  other 
hand,  men  leaving  Asia  to  go  to  America  went  with  the  wind,  put  up  a 
sail,  and  developed  ideas  and  Oriental  philosophies  in  accord  with  the 
acceptance  of  nature.  These  two  tendencies  met  in  America,  producing  a 
movement  into  the  air,  not  bound  to  the  past,  traditions,  or  whatever.  Once 
in  Amsterdam,  a  Dutch  musician  said  to  me,  "It  must  be  very  difficult  for 
you  in  America  to  write  music,  for  you  are  so  far  away  from  the  centers  of 
tradition."  I  had  to  say,  "It  must  be  very  difficult  for  you  in  Europe  to  write 
music,  for  you  are  so  close  to  the  centers  of  tradition."  Why,  since  the 
climate  for  experimentation  in  America  is  so  good,  why  is  American  ex- 
perimental music  so  lacking  in  strength  politically  (I  mean  unsupported 
by  those  with  money  [individuals  and  foundations],  unpublished,  undis- 
cussed, ignored) ,  and  why  is  there  so  little  of  it  that  is  truly  uncompromis- 


ing?  I  think  the  answer  is  this:  Until  1950  about  all  the  energy  for  furthering 
music  in  America  was  concentrated  either  in  the  League  of  Composers  or 
in  the  ISCM  ( another  way  of  saying  Boulanger  and  Stravinsky  on  the  one 
hand  and  Schoenberg  on  the  other).  The  New  Music  Society  of  Henry 
Cowell  was  independent  and  therefore  not  politically  strong.  Anything  that 
was  vividly  experimental  was  discouraged  by  the  League  and  the  ISCM. 
So  that  a  long  period  of  contemporary  music  history  in  America  was  devoid 
of  performances  of  works  by  Ives  and  Varese.  Now  the  scene  changes,  but 
the  last  few  years  have  been  quiet.  The  League  and  the  ISCM  fused  and, 
so  doing,  gave  no  concerts  at  all.  We  may  trust  that  new  life  will  spring  up, 
since  society  like  nature  abhors  a  vacuum. 

What  about  music  for  magnetic  tape  in  America?  Otto  Luening  and 
Vladimir  Ussachevsky  call  themselves  experimental  because  of  their  use 
of  this  new  medium.  However,  they  just  continue  conventional  musical 
practices,  at  most  extending  the  ranges  of  instruments  electronically  and 
so  forth.  The  Barrons,  Louis  and  Bebe,  are  also  cautious,  doing  nothing 
that  does  not  have  an  immediate  popular  acceptance.  The  Canadian 
Norman  McLaren,  working  with  film,  is  more  adventurous  than  these— also 
the  Whitney  brothers  in  California.  Henry  Jacobs  and  those  who  surround 
him  in  the  San  Francisco  area  are  as  conventional  as  Luening,  Ussachevsky, 
and  the  Barrons.  These  do  not  move  in  directions  that  are  as  experimental 
as  those  taken  by  the  Europeans:  Pousseur,  Berio,  Maderna,  Boulez,  Stock- 
hausen,  and  so  forth.  For  this  reason  one  can  complain  that  the  society  of 
musicians  in  America  has  neither  recognized  nor  furthered  its  native  musi- 
cal resource  ( by  "native"  I  mean  that  resource  which  distinguishes  it  from 
Europe  and  Asia— its  capacity  to  easily  break  with  tradition,  to  move  easily 
into  the  air,  its  capacity  for  the  unforeseen,  its  capacity  for  experimenta- 
tion ) .  The  figures  in  the  ISCM  and  the  League,  however,  were  not  powerful 
aesthetically,  but  powerful  only  politically.  The  names  of  Stravinsky, 
Schoenberg,  Webern  are  more  golden  than  any  of  their  American  deriva- 
tives. These  latter  have  therefore  little  musical  influence,  and  now  that 
they  are  becoming  quiescent  politically,  one  may  expect  a  change  in  the 
musical  society. 

The  vitality  that  characterizes  the  current  European  musical  scene 
follows  from  the  activities  of  Boulez,  Stockhausen,  Nono,  Maderna,  Pous- 
seur, Berio,  etc.  There  is  in  all  of  this  activity  an  element  of  tradition,  con- 


tinuity  with  the  past,  which  is  expressed  in  each  work  as  an  interest  in 
continuity  whether  in  terms  of  discourse  or  organization.  By  critics  this 
activity  is  termed  post-Webernian.  However,  this  term  apparently  means 
only  music  written  after  that  of  Webern,  not  music  written  because  of  that 
of  Webern:  there  is  no  sign  of  klangfarbenmelodie,  no  concern  for  discon- 
tinuity—rather a  surprising  acceptance  of  even  the  most  banal  of  continuity 
devices:  ascending  or  descending  linear  passages,  crescendi  and  diminu- 
endi,  passages  from  tape  to  orchestra  that  are  made  imperceptible.  The 
skills  that  are  required  to  bring  such  events  about  are  taught  in  the  acad- 
emies. However,  this  scene  will  change.  The  silences  of  American  experi- 
mental music  and  even  its  technical  involvements  with  chance  operations 
are  being  introduced  into  new  European  music.  It  will  not  be  easy,  how- 
ever, for  Europe  to  give  up  being  Europe.  It  will,  nevertheless,  and  must: 
for  the  world  is  one  world  now. 

History  is  the  story  of  original  actions.  Once  when  Virgil  Thomson  was 
giving  a  talk  at  Town  Hall  in  New  York  City,  he  spoke  of  the  necessity  of 
originality.  The  audience  immediately  hissed.  Why  are  people  opposed  to 
originality?  Some  fear  the  loss  of  the  status  quo.  Others  realize,  I  suppose, 
the  fact  that  they  will  not  make  it.  Make  what?  Make  history.  There  are 
kinds  of  originality:  several  that  are  involved  with  success,  beauty,  and 
ideas  (of  order,  of  expression:  i.e.,  Bach,  Beethoven);  a  single  that  is  not 
involved,  neuter,  so  to  say.  All  of  the  several  involved  kinds  are  generally 
existent  and  only  bring  one  sooner  or  later  to  a  disgust  with  art.  Such  orig- 
inal artists  appear,  as  Antonin  Artaud  said,  as  pigs:  concerned  with  self- 
advertisement.  What  is  advertised?  Finally,  and  at  best,  only  something 
that  is  connected  not  with  making  history  but  with  the  past:  Bach,  Beetho- 
ven. If  it's  a  new  idea  of  order,  it's  Bach;  if  it's  a  heartfelt  expression,  it's 
Beethoven.  That  is  not  the  single  necessary  originality  that  is  not  involved 
and  that  makes  history.  That  one  sees  that  the  human  race  is  one  person 
(all  of  its  members  parts  of  the  same  body,  brothers— not  in  competition 
any  more  than  hand  is  in  competition  with  eye)  enables  him  to  see  that 
originality  is  necessary,  for  there  is  no  need  for  eye  to  do  what  hand  so  well 
does.  In  this  way,  the  past  and  the  present  are  to  be  observed  and  each 
person  makes  what  he  alone  must  make,  bringing  for  the  whole  of  human 
society  into  existence  a  historical  fact,  and  then,  on  and  on,  in  continuum 
and  discontinuum. 


The  text  below  first  appeared  in  the  1958  Art  News  Annual.  It  is  an  imaginary 
conversation  between  Satie  and  myself.  Because  he  died  over  thirty  years 
before,  neither  of  us  hears  what  the  other  says.  His  remarks  are  ones  he  is 
reported  to  have  made  and  excerpts  from  his  writings. 


There'll  probably  be  some  music,  but  we'll  manage 
to  find  a  quiet  corner  where  we  can  talk. 

A  few  days  ago  it  rained.  I  should  be  out  gathering 
mushrooms.  But  here  I  am,  having  to  write  about 
Satie.  In  an  unguarded  moment  I  said  I  would. 
Now  I  am  pestered  with  a  deadline.  Why,  in 
heaven's  name,  don't  people  read  the  books  about 
him  that  are  available,  play  the  music  that's  pub- 
lished? Then  I  for  one  could  go  back  to  the  woods 
and  spend  my  time  profitably. 

Nevertheless,  we  must  bring  about  a  music  which 
is  like  furniture— a  music,  that  is,  which  will  be  part 
of  the  noises  of  the  environment,  will  take  them 
into  consideration.  I  think  of  it  as  melodious,  sof- 
tening the  noises  of  the  knives  and  forks,  not  domi- 
nating them,  not  imposing  itself.  It  would  fill  up 
those  heavy  silences  that  sometimes  fall  between 
friends  dining  together.  It  would  spare  them  the 
trouble  of  paying  attention  to  their  own  banal  re- 
marks. And  at  the  same  time  it  would  neutralize 
the  street  noises  which  so  indiscretely  enter  into 
the  play  of  conversation.  To  make  such  music 
would  be  to  respond  to  a  need. 

Records,  too,  are  available.  But  it  would  be  an  act 
of  charity  even  to  oneself  to  smash  them  whenever 


they  are  discovered.  They  are  useless  except  for 
that  and  for  the  royalties  which  the  composer, 
dead  now  some  thirty-odd  years,  can  no  longer 
pick  up. 

We  cannot  doubt  that  animals  both  love  and  prac- 
tice music.  That  is  evident.  But  it  seems  their  musi- 
cal system  differs  from  ours.  It  is  another  school. 
. . .  We  are  not  familiar  with  their  didactic  works. 
Perhaps  they  don't  have  any. 

Who's  interested  in  Satie  nowadays  anyway?  Not 
Pierre  Boulez:  he  has  the  twelve  tones,  governs 
La  Domaine  Musicale,  whereas  Satie  had  only  the 
Group  of  Six  and  was  called  Le  Maitre  d'Arcueil. 
Nor  Stockhausen:  I  imagine  he  has  not  yet  given 
Satie  a  thought.  .  . .  Current  musical  activities  in- 
volve two  problems:  ( 1 )  applying  the  idea  of  the 
series  inherent  in  the  twelve-tone  system  to  the 
organization  of  all  the  characteristics  of  sound, 
viz.,  frequency,  duration,  amplitude,  timbre,  pro- 
ducing a  more  controlled  situation  than  before 
attempted  (Stockhausen:  "It  makes  me  feel  so 
good  to  know  that  I  am  on  the  right  track.") ;  and 
(2a)  discovering  and  acting  upon  the  new  musi- 
cal resources  ( all  audible  sounds  in  any  combina- 
tion and  any  continuity  issuing  from  any  points 
in  space  in  any  transformations)  handed  to  us 
upon  the  magnetic  plate  of  tape,  or  ( 2b )  some- 
how arranging  economical  instrumental  occasions 
(tape  is  expensive)  so  that  the  action  which  re- 
sults presupposes  a  totality  of  possibility. ...  Is 
Satie  relevant  in  mid-century? 

I  am  bored  with  dying  of  a  broken  heart.  Every- 
thing I  timidly  start  fails  with  a  boldness  before 
unknown.  What  can  I  do  but  turn  towards  God 


and  point  my  finger  at  him?  I  have  come  to  the 
conclusion  that  the  old  man  is  even  more  stupid 
than  he  is  weak. 

Taking  the  works  of  Satie  chronologically  ( 1886- 
1925),  successive  ones  often  appear  as  completely 
new  departures.  Two  pieces  will  be  so  different  as 
not  to  suggest  that  the  same  person  wrote  them. 
Now  and  then,  on  the  other  hand,  works  in  suc- 
cession are  so  alike,  sometimes  nearly  identical,  as 
to  bring  to  mind  the  annual  exhibitions  of  painters, 
and  to  allow  musicologists  to  discern  stylistic  pe- 
riods. Students  busy  themselves  with  generalized 
analyses  of  harmonic,  melodic,  and  rhythmic  mat- 
ters with  the  object  of  showing  that  in  Socrate  all 
these  formal  principles  are  found,  defined,  and  re- 
united in  a  homogeneous  fashion  ( as  befits  a  mas- 
terpiece). From  this  student  point  of  view,  Pierre 
Boulez  is  justified  in  rejecting  Satie.  Le  bon 
Maitre's  harmonies,  melodies,  and  rhythms  are  no 
longer  of  interest.  They  provide  pleasure  for  those 
who  have  no  better  use  for  their  time.  They've  lost 
their  power  to  irritate.  True,  one  could  not  endure 
a  performance  of  Vexations  ( lasting  [my  estimate] 
twenty-four  hours;  840  repetitions  of  a  fifty-two 
beat  piece  itself  involving  a  repetitive  structure: 
A,Ai,A,A2,  each  A  thirteen  measures  long),  but 
why  give  it  a  thought? 

How  white  it  is!  no  painting  ornaments  it;  it  is  all 
of  a  piece.  ( Reverie  on  a  plate ) 

An  artist  conscientiously  moves  in  a  direction 
which  for  some  good  reason  he  takes,  putting  one 
work  in  front  of  the  other  with  the  hope  he'll  ar- 
rive before  death  overtakes  him.  But  Satie  de- 
spised Art  ("J'emmerde  VArt").  He  was  going 



nowhere.  The  artist  counts:  7,  8,  9,  etc.  Satie  ap- 
pears at  unpredictable  points  springing  always 
from  zero:  112, 2, 49,  no  etc.  The  absence  of  transi- 
tion is  characteristic  not  only  between  finished 
works,  but  at  divisions,  large  and  small,  within  a 
single  one.  It  was  in  the  same  way  that  Satie  made 
his  living:  he  never  took  a  regular  (continuity- 
giving)  job,  plus  raises  and  bonuses  (climaxes). 
No  one  can  say  for  sure  anything  about  the  String 
Quartet  he  was  on  the  point  of  writing  when  he 

They  will  tell  you  I  am  not  a  musician.  That's  right. 
.  .  .  Take  the  Fils  des  Etoiles  or  the  Morceaux  en 
forme  de  poire,  En  habit  de  cheval  or  the  Sara- 
bandes,  it  is  clear  no  musical  idea  presided  at  the 
creation  of  these  works. 

Curiously  enough,  the  twelve-tone  system  has  no 
zero  in  it.  Given  a  series:  3, 5,  2,  7, 10,  8, 11, 9, 1, 6, 
4,  12  and  the  plan  of  obtaining  its  inversion  by 
numbers  which  when  added  to  the  corresponding 
ones  of  the  original  series  will  give  12,  one  obtains 
9, 7, 10, 5, 2, 4, 1, 3, 11,  6,  8  and  12.  For  in  this  sys- 
tem 12  plus  12  equals  12.  There  is  not  enough  of 
nothing  in  it. 

It's  a  large  stairway,  very  large. 

It  has  more  than  a  thousand  steps,  all  made  of  ivory. 

It  is  very  handsome. 

Nobody  dares  use  it 

For  fear  of  spoiling  it. 

The  King  himself  never  does. 

Leaving  his  room 

He  jumps  out  the  window. 


So,  he  often  says: 

I  love  this  stairway  so  much 

I'm  going  to  have  it  stuffed. 

Isn't  the  King  right? 

Is  it  not  a  question  of  the  will,  this  one,  I  mean,  of 
giving  consideration  to  the  sounds  of  the  knives 
and  forks,  the  street  noises,  letting  them  enter  in?, 
(Or  call  it  magnetic  tape,  musique  concrete, 
furniture  music.  It's  the  same  thing:  working  in 
terms  of  totality,  not  just  the  discretely  chosen 
conventions. ) 

Why  is  it  necessary  to  give  the  sounds  of  knives 
and  forks  consideration?  Satie  says  so.  He  is  right. 
Otherwise  the  music  will  have  to  have  walls  to 
defend  itself,  walls  which  will  not  only  constantly 
be  in  need  of  repair,  but  which,  even  to  get  a  drink 
of  water,  one  will  have  to  pass  beyond,  inviting 
disaster.  It  is  evidently  a  question  of  bringing 
one's  intended  actions  into  relation  with  the  am- 
bient unintended  ones.  The  common  denominator 
is  zero,  where  the  heart  beats  (no  one  means  to 
circulate  his  blood ) . 

Show  me  something  new;  I'll  begin  all  over  again. 

Of  course  "it  is  another  school"— this  moving  out 
from  zero. 

Flowers!  But,  dear  lady,  it  is  too  soon! 


To  repeat:  a  sound  has  four  characteristics:  fre- 
quency, amplitude,  timbre  and  duration.  Silence 
(ambient  noise)  has  only  duration.  A  zero  musi- 
cal structure  must  be  just  an  empty  time.  Satie 
made  at  least  three  kinds  of  empty  time  structures: 



(numbers  are  of  measures).  Symmetry,  which 
itself  suggests  zero,  is  here  horizontal,  whereas  in: 




it  is  vertical;  and  in: 




2    2 
1  11  1 


1 1 


1  1 

it  is  geometric  ( the  large  numbers  are  groups  of 
measures ) . 


When  I  was  young,  people  told  me:  You'll  see 
when  you're  fifty.  I'm  fifty.  I've  seen  nothing. 

A  time  that's  just  time  will  let  sounds  be  just 
sounds  and  if  they  are  folk  tunes,  unresolved  ninth 
chords,  or  knives  and  forks,  just  folk  tunes,  un- 
resolved ninth  chords,  or  knives  and  forks. 

I  am  in  complete  agreement  with  our  enemies.  It's 
a  shame  that  artists  advertise.  However,  Beethoven 
was  not  clumsy  in  his  publicity.  That's  how  he  be- 
came known,  I  believe. 



It  ( L'Esprit  Nouveau)  teaches  us  to  tend  towards 
an  absence  (simplicite)  of  emotion  and  an  inac- 
tivity (fermete)  in  the  way  of  prescribing  sonori- 
ties and  rhythms  which  lets  them  affirm  themselves 
clearly,  in  a  straight  line  from  their  plan  and  pitch, 
conceived  in  a  spirit  of  humility  and  renunciation. 

To  be  interested  in  Satie  one  must  be  disinterested* 
to  begin  with,  accept  that  a  sound  is  a  sound  and 
a  man  is  a  man,  give  up  illusions  about  ideas  of 
order,  expressions  of  sentiment,  and  all  the  rest  of 
our  inherited  aesthetic  claptrap. 

If  I  fail,  so  much  the  worse  for  me.  It's  because  I 
had  nothing  in  me  to  begin  with. 

It's  not  a  question  of  Satie's  relevance.  He's  indis- 

No  longer  anything  to  be  done  in  that  direction,  I 
must  search  for  something  else  or  I  am  lost. 

This  subject  is  entertaining  ( "What's  necessary  is 
to  be  uncompromising  to  the  end")  but  it  is  getting 
nowhere,  and  more  than  ever  there  are  things  to 
be  done. 

Listen,  my  friends,  when  I  leave  you  like  this  and 
must  go  home  on  foot,  it  is  towards  dawn  I  come 
near  Arcueil.  When  I  pass  through  the  woods,  the 
birds  beginning  to  sing,  I  see  an  old  tree,  its  leaves 
rustling,  I  go  near,  I  put  my  arms  around  it  and 
think,  What  a  good  character,  never  to  have 
harmed  anyone. 

—and,  on  another  occasion, 

Personally,  I  am  neither  good  nor  bad.  I  oscillate, 
if  I  may  say  so.  Also  I've  never  really  done  anyone 
any  harm— nor  any  good,  to  boot. 


The  Fall  1958  issue  of  Nutida  Musik  (Stockholm)  was  devoted  to  the  work  of 
Edgard  Varese.  I  contributed  the  following  article. 


Changes  which  are  characteristic  of  a  living  organism  (and  twentieth- 
century  music  is  one)  have  become  recently  more  marked  and  occur  in 
more  rapid  succession.  In  the  history  Varese  appears  sometimes  as  a  figure 
of  the  past;  and,  again,  as  one  active  according  to  present  necessities. 

Facts  about  his  life  and  work  are  difficult  to  obtain.  He  considers  in- 
terest in  them  to  be  a  form  of  necrophilia;  he  prefers  to  leave  no  traces. 
Analytical  studies  of  his  work  are  somehow  not  relevant  to  one's  experience 
of  it.  Though  Varese  has  defined  music  as  "organized  sound,"  it  is  unclear 
how  he  brings  about  the  organization  of  his  works.  He  has  often  insisted 
upon  imagination  as  a  sine  qua  non,  and  the  presence  of  his  imagination  is 
strong  as  handwriting  in  each  of  his  works.  The  characteristic  flourish  is  a 
tone  sustained  through  a  crescendo  to  the  maximum  amplitude. 

For  those  who  are  interested  in  sounds  just  as  they  are,  apart  from 
psychology  about  them,  one  must  look  further  for  Varese's  present  rele- 
vance. This  is  not  found  in  the  character  of  his  imagination,  which  has  to  do 
with  him— not  with  sound  itself.  Nor  is  his  use  of  tape  relevant,  for  in  Deserts 
he  attempts  to  make  tape  sound  like  the  orchestra  and  vice  versa,  showing 
again  a  lack  of  interest  in  the  natural  differences  of  sounds,  preferring  to 
give  them  all  his  unifying  signature.  In  this  respect  his  need  for  continuity 
does  not  correspond  to  the  present  need  for  discontinuity  (discontinuity 
has  the  effect  of  divorcing  sounds  from  the  burden  of  psychological  inten- 
tions ) .  Though  Varese  was  the  first  to  write  directly  for  instrumental  en- 
sembles ( giving  up  the  piano  sketch  and  its  orchestral  coloration),  his  way 


of  doing  this  was  controlled  by  his  imagination  to  the  point  of  exploiting 
the  sounds  for  his  own  purposes. 

Recently  ( 1957-1958 )  he  has  found  a  notation  for  jazz  improvisation 
of  a  form  controlled  by  himself.  Though  the  specific  notes  are  not  deter- 
mined by  him,  the  amplitudes  are;  they  are  characteristic  of  his  imagina- 
tion, and  the  improvisations,  though  somewhat  indeterminate,  sound  like 
his  other  works. 

In  these  respects  Varese  is  an  artist  of  the  past.  Rather  than  dealing 
with  sounds  as  sounds,  he  deals  with  them  as  Varese. 

However,  more  clearly  and  actively  than  anyone  else  of  his  generation, 
he  established  the  present  nature  of  music.  This  nature  does  not  arise  from 
pitch  relations  ( consonance-dissonance )  nor  from  twelve  tones  nor  seven 
plus  five  (Schoenberg-Stravinsky),  but  arises  from  an  acceptance  of  all 
audible  phenomena  as  material  proper  to  music.  While  others  were  still 
discriminating  "musical"  tones  from  noises,  Varese  moved  into  the  field  of 
sound  itself,  not  splitting  it  in  two  by  introducing  into  the  perception  of  it  a 
mental  prejudice.  That  he  fathered  forth  noise— that  is  to  say,  into  twentieth- 
century  music— makes  him  more  relative  to  present  musical  necessity  than 
even  the  Viennese  masters,  whose  notion  of  the  number  12  was  some  time 
ago  dropped  and  shortly,  surely,  their  notion  of  the  series  will  be  seen  as 
no  longer  urgently  necessary. 

One  summer  day,  Merce  Cunningham  and  I  took  eight  children  to  Bear  Mountain  Park.  The  paths 
through  the  zoo  were  crowded.  Some  of  the  children  ran  ahead,  while  others  fell  behind.  Every  now 
and  then  we  stopped,  gathered  all  the  children  together,  and  counted  them  to  make  sure  none  had  been 
lost.  Since  it  was  very  hot  and  the  children  were  getting  difficult,  we  decided  to  buy  them  ice  cream 
cones.  This  was  done  in  shifts.  While  I  stayed  with  some,  Merce  Cunningham  took  others,  got  them  cones, 
and  brought  them  back.  I  took  the  ones  with  cones.  He  took  those  without.  Eventually  all  the  children 
were  supplied  with  ice  cream.  However,  they  got  it  all  over  their  faces.  So  we  went  to  a  water  fountain 
where  people  were  lined  up  to  get  a  drink,  put  the  children  in  line,  tried  to  keep  them  there,  and  waited 
our  turn.  Finally,  I  knelt  beside  the  fountain.  Merce  Cunningham  turned  it  on.  Then  I  proceeded  one  by 
one  to  wash  the  children's  faces.  While  I  was  doing  this,  a  man  behind  us  in  line  said  rather  loudly, 
"There's  a  washroom  over  there."  I  looked  up  at  him  quickly  and  said,  "Where?  And  how  did  you  know 
I  was  interested  in  mushrooms?" 


One  day  I  asked  Schoenberg  what  he  thought  about  the  international  situation.  He  said,  "The  im- 
portant thing  to  do  is  to  develop  foreign  trade." 

Earle  Brown  and  I  spent  several  months  splicing  magnetic  tape  together.  We  sat  on  opposite  sides 
of  the  same  table.  Each  of  us  had  a  pattern  of  the  splicing  to  be  done,  the  measurements  to  be  made,  etc. 
Since  we  were  working  on  tapes  that  were  later  to  be  synchronized,  we  checked  our  measurements  every 
now  and  then  against  each  other.  We  invariably  discovered  errors  in  each  other's  measurements.  At  first 
each  of  us  thought  the  other  was  being  careless.  When  the  whole  situation  became  somewhat  exasperating, 
we  took  a  single  ruler  and  a  single  tape  and  each  one  marked  where  he  thought  an  inch  was.  The  two 
marks  were  at  different  points.  It  turned  out  that  Earle  Brown  closed  one  eye  when  he  made  his  measure- 
ments, whereas  I  kept  both  eyes  open.  We  then  tried  closing  one  of  my  eyes,  and  later  opening  both  of 
his.  There  still  was  disagreement  as  to  the  length  of  an  inch.  Finally  we  decided  that  one  person  should 
do  all  the  final  synchronizing  splices.  But  then  errors  crept  in  due  to  changes  in  weather.  In  spite  of  these 
obstacles,  we  went  on  doing  what  we  were  doing  for  about  five  more  months,  twelve  hours  a  day,  until 
the  work  was  finished. 

Dorothy  Norman  invited  me  to  dinner  in  New  York.  There  was  a  lady  there  from  Philadelphia  who 
was  an  authority  on  Buddhist  art.  When  she  found  out  I  was  interested  in  mushrooms,  she  said,  "Have 
you  an  explanation  of  the  symbolism  involved  in  the  death  of  the  Buddha  by  his  eating  a  mushroom?" 
I  explained  that  I'd  never  been  interested  in  symbolism;  that  I  preferred  just  taking  things  as  themselves, 
not  as  standing  for  other  things.  But  then  a  few  days  later  while  rambling  in  the  woods  I  got  to  thinking. 
I  recalled  the  Indian  concept  of  the  relation  of  life  and  the  seasons.  Spring  is  Creation.  Summer  is 
Preservation.  Fall  is  Destruction.  Winter  is  Quiescence.  Mushrooms  grow  most  vigorously  in  the  fall,  the 
period  of  destruction,  and  the  function  of  many  of  them  is  to  bring  about  the  final  decay  of  rotting 
material.  In  fact,  as  I  read  somewhere,  the  world  would  be  an  impassible  heap  of  old  rubbish  were  it 
not  for  mushrooms  and  their  capacity  to  get  rid  of  it.  So  I  wrote  to  the  lady  in  Philadelphia.  I  said,  "The 
function  of  mushrooms  is  to  rid  the  world  of  old  rubbish.  The  Buddha  died  a  natural  death." 

Once  I  was  visiting  my  Aunt  Marge.  She  was  doing  her  laundry.  She  turned  to  me  and  said,  "You 
know?  I  love  this  machine  much  more  than  I  do  your  Uncle  Walter." 

One  Sunday  morning,  Mother  said  to  Dad,  "Let's  go  to  church."  Dad  said,  "O.K."  When  they  drove 
up  in  front,  Dad  showed  no  sign  of  getting  out  of  the  car.  Mother  said,  "Aren't  you  coming  in?"  Dad 
said,  "No,  I'll  wait  for  you  here." 

After  a  long  and  arduous  journey  a  young  Japanese  man  arrived  deep  in  a  forest  where  the  teacher 
of  his  choice  was  living  in  a  small  house  he  had  made.  When  the  student  arrived,  the  teacher  was 
sweeping  up  fallen  leaves.  Greeting  his  master,  the  young  man  received  no  greeting  in  return.  And  to 
all  his  questions,  there  were  no  replies.  Realizing  there  was  nothing  he  could  do  to  get  the  teacher's 
attention,  the  student  went  to  another  part  of  the  same  forest  and  built  himself  a  house.  Years  later,  when 
he  was  sweeping  up  fallen  leaves,  he  was  enlightened.  He  then  dropped  everything,  ran  through  the 
forest  to  his  teacher,  and  said,  "Thank  you." 


While  I  was  studying  with  Adolph  Weiss  in  the  early  1930's,  I  became  aware 
of  his  unhappiness  in  face  of  the  fact  that  his  music  was  rarely  performed.  I  too 
had  experienced  difficulty  in  arranging  performances  of  my  compositions,  so 
I  determined  to  consider  a  piece  of  music  only  half  done  when  I  completed  a 
manuscript.  It  was  my  responsibility  to  finish  it  by  getting  it  played. 

It  was  evident  that  musicians  interested  in  new  music  were  rare.  It  was 
equally  evident  that  modern  dancers  were  grateful  for  any  sounds  or  noises 
that  could  be  produced  for  their  recitals.  My  first  commission  was  from  the 
Physical  Education  Department  of  U.C.L.A.  An  accompaniment  for  an  aquatic 
ballet  was  needed.  Using  drums  and  gongs,  I  found  that  the  swimmers 
beneath  the  surface  of  the  water,  not  being  able  to  hear  the  sounds,  lost  their 
places.  Dipping  the  gongs  into  the  water  while  still  playing  them  solved  the 
problems  of  synchronization  and  brought  the  sliding  tones  of  the  "water  gong" 
into  the  percussion  orchestra. 


Very  soon  I  was  earning  a  livelihood  accompanying  dance  classes  and 
occasionally  writing  music  for  performances.  In  1937  I  was  at  the  Cornish 
School  in  Seattle,  associated  with  Bonnie  Bird,  who  had  danced  with  Martha 
Graham.  Merce  Cunningham  was  a  student,  so  remarkable  that  he  soon  left 
Seattle  for  New  York,  where  he  became  a  soloist  in  the  Graham  company.  Four 
or  five  years  later  I  went  to  New  York  and  encouraged  Cunningham  to  give 
programs  of  his  own  dances.  We  have  worked  together  since  1943. 


This  article  was  part  of  a  series,  Percussion  Music  and  Its  Relation  to  the 
Modern  Dance,  that  appeared  in  Dance  Observer  in  1939.  It  was  written  in 
Seattle  where  I  had  organized  a  concert- giving  percussion  ensemble. 

Goal:  New  Music,  New  Dance 

Percussion  music  is  revolution.  Sound  and  rhythm  have  too  long  been  sub- 
missive to  the  restrictions  of  nineteenth-century  music.  Today  we  are  fight- 
ing for  their  emancipation.  Tomorrow,  with  electronic  music  in  our  ears, 
we  will  hear  freedom. 

Instead  of  giving  us  new  sounds,  the  nineteenth-century  composers 
have  given  us  endless  arrangements  of  the  old  sounds.  We  have  turned  on 
radios  and  always  known  when  we  were  tuned  to  a  symphony.  The  sound 
has  always  been  the  same,  and  there  has  not  been  even  a  hint  of  curiosity  as 
to  the  possibilities  of  rhythm.  For  interesting  rhythms  we  have  listened 
to  jazz. 

At  the  present  stage  of  revolution,  a  healthy  lawlessness  is  warranted. 
Experiment  must  necessarily  be  carried  on  by  hitting  anything— tin  pans, 
rice  bowls,  iron  pipes— anything  we  can  lay  our  hands  on.  Not  only  hitting, 
but  rubbing,  smashing,  making  sound  in  every  possible  way.  In  short,  we 
must  explore  the  materials  of  music.  What  we  can't  do  ourselves  will  be 
done  by  machines  and  electrical  instruments  which  we  will  invent. 

The  conscientious  objectors  to  modern  music  will,  of  course,  attempt 
everything  in  the  way  of  counterrevolution.  Musicians  will  not  admit  that 
we  are  making  music;  they  will  say  that  we  are  interested  in  superficial 
effects,  or,  at  most,  are  imitating  Oriental  or  primitive  music.  New  and 
original  sounds  will  be  labeled  as  "noise."  But  our  common  answer  to  every 
criticism  must  be  to  continue  working  and  listening,  making  music  with  its 
materials,  sound  and  rhythm,  disregarding  the  cumbersome,  top-heavy 
structure  of  musical  prohibitions. 


These  prohibitions  removed,  the  choreographer  will  be  quick  to  real- 
ize a  great  advantage  to  the  modern  dance:  the  simultaneous  composition 
of  both  dance  and  music.  The  materials  of  dance,  already  including  rhythm, 
require  only  the  addition  of  sound  to  become  a  rich,  complete  vocabulary. 
The  dancer  should  be  better  equipped  than  the  musician  to  use  this  vo- 
cabulary, for  more  of  the  materials  are  already  at  his  command.  Some 
dancers  have  made  steps  in  this  direction  by  making  simple  percussion 
accompaniments.  Their  use  of  percussion,  unfortunately,  has  not  been  con- 
structive. They  have  followed  the  rhythm  of  their  own  dance  movement, 
accentuated  it  and  punctuated  it  with  percussion,  but  they  have  not  given 
the  sound  its  own  and  special  part  in  the  whole  composition.  They  have 
made  the  music  identical  with  the  dance  but  not  cooperative  with  it. 
Whatever  method  is  used  in  composing  the  materials  of  the  dance  can  be 
extended  to  the  organization  of  the  musical  materials.  The  form  of  the 
music-dance  composition  should  be  a  necessary  working  together  of  all 
materials  used.  The  music  will  then  be  more  than  an  accompaniment;  it 
will  be  an  integral  part  of  the  dance. 

When  I  was  growing  up  in  California  there  were  two  things  that  everyone  assumed  were  good  for 
you.  There  were,  of  course,  others— spinach  and  oatmeal,  for  instance— but  right  now  I'm  thinking  of 
sunshine  and  orange  juice.  When  we  lived  at  Ocean  Park,  I  was  sent  out  every  morning  to  the  beach 
where  I  spent  the  day  building  roily-coasters  in  the  sand,  complicated  downhill  tracks  with  tunnels  and 
inclines  upon  which  I  rolled  a  small  hard  rubber  ball.  Every  day  toward  noon  I  fainted  because  the  sun 
was  too  much  for  me.  When  I  fainted  I  didn't  fall  down,  but  I  couldn't  see;  there  were  flocks  of  black 
spots  wherever  I  looked.  I  soon  learned  to  find  my  way  in  that  blindness  to  a  hamburger  stand  where  I'd 
ask  for  something  to  eat.  Sitting  in  the  shade,  I'd  come  to.  It  took  me  much  longer,  about  thirty-five  years 
in  fact,  to  learn  that  orange  juice  was  not  good  for  me  either. 

Before  studying  Zen,  men  are  men  and  mountains  are  mountains.  While  studying  Zen,  things  become 
confused.  After  studying  Zen,  men  are  men  and  mountains  are  mountains.  After  telling  this,  Dr.  Suzuki 
was  asked,  "What  is  the  difference  between  before  and  after?"  He  said,  "No  difference,  only  the  feet  are 
a  little  bit  off  the  ground." 


The  following  piece  was  printed  in  Dance  Observer  in  1944. 

Grace  and  Clarity 

The  strength  that  comes  from  firmly  established  art  practices  is  not  present 
in  the  modern  dance  today.  Insecure,  not  having  any  clear  direction,  the 
modern  dancer  is  willing  to  compromise  and  to  accept  influences  from 
other  more  rooted  art  manners,  enabling  one  to  remark  that  certain  dancers 
are  either  borrowing  from  or  selling  themselves  to  Broadway,  others  are 
learning  from  folk  and  Oriental  arts,  and  many  are  either  introducing  into 
their  work  elements  of  the  ballet,  or,  in  an  all-out  effort,  devoting  them- 
selves to  it.  Confronted  with  its  history,  its  former  power,  its  present  in- 
security, the  realization  is  unavoidable  that  the  strength  the  modern  dance 
once  had  was  not  impersonal  but  was  intimately  connected  with  and  ulti- 
mately dependent  on  the  personalities  and  even  the  actual  physical  bodies 
of  the  individuals  who  imparted  it. 

The  techniques  of  the  modern  dance  were  once  orthodox.  It  did  not 
enter  a  dancer's  mind  that  they  might  be  altered.  To  add  to  them  was  the 
sole  privilege  of  the  originators. 

Intensive  summer  courses  were  the  scenes  of  the  new  dispensations, 
reverently  transmitted  by  the  master-students.  When  the  fanatically 
followed  leaders  began,  and  when  they  continued,  to  desert  their  own 
teachings  (adapting  chiefly  balletish  movements  to  their  own  rapidly- 
growing-less-rigorous  techniques ) ,  a  general  and  profound  insecurity  fell 
over  the  modern  dance. 

Where  any  strength  now  exists  in  the  modern  dance,  it  is,  as  before, 
in  isolated  personalities  and  physiques.  In  the  case  of  the  young,  this  is 
unfortunate;  for,  no  matter  how  impressive  and  revelatory  their  expressed 


outlooks  on  life  are,  they  are  overshadowed,  in  the  minds  of  audiences,  and 
often,  understandably,  in  the  dancers'  own  minds,  by  the  more  familiar, 
more  respected,  and  more  mature  older  personalities. 

Personality  is  a  flimsy  thing  on  which  to  build  an  art.  ( This  does  not 
mean  that  it  should  not  enter  into  an  art,  for,  indeed,  that  is  what  is  meant 
by  the  word  style. )  And  the  ballet  is  obviously  not  built  on  such  an  ephem- 
eron,  for,  if  it  were,  it  would  not  at  present  thrive  as  it  does,  almost  devoid 
of  interesting  personalities  and  certainly  without  the  contribution  of  any 
individual's  message  or  attitude  toward  life. 

That  the  ballet  has  something  seems  reasonable  to  assume.  That  what 
it  has  is  what  the  modern  dance  needs  is  here  expressed  as  an  opinion. 

It  is  seriously  to  be  doubted  whether  tour  jetS,  entrechat  six,  or  sur  les 
pointes  (in  general)  are  needed  in  the  modern  dance.  Even  the  prettiness 
and  fanciness  of  these  movements  would  not  seem  to  be  requisite.  Also,  it 
is  not  true  that  the  basis  of  the  ballet  lies  in  glittering  costumes  and  sets,  for 
many  of  the  better  ballets  appear  year  after  year  in  drab,  weather-beaten 

Ballets  like  Les  Sylphides,  Swan  Lake,  almost  any  Pas  de  Deux  or 
Quatre,  and  currently,  the  exceptional  Danses  Concertantes  have  a  strength 
and  validity  quite  beyond  and  separate  from  the  movements  involved, 
whether  or  not  they  are  done  with  style  (expressed  personality),  the  orna- 
mented condition  of  the  stage,  quality  of  costumery,  sound  of  the  music, 
or  any  other  particularities,  including  those  of  content.  Nor  does  the  secret 
lie  in  that  mysterious  quantity,  form.  (The  forms  of  the  ballet  are  mostly 
dull;  symmetry  is  maintained  practically  without  question. ) 

Good  or  bad,  with  or  without  meaning,  well  dressed  or  not,  the  ballet 
is  always  clear  in  its  rhythmic  structure.  Phrases  begin  and  end  in  such  a 
way  that  anyone  in  the  audience  knows  when  they  begin  and  end,  and 
breathes  accordingly.  It  may  seem  at  first  thought  that  rhythmic  structure 
is  not  of  primary  importance.  However,  a  dance,  a  poem,  a  piece  of  music 
( any  of  the  time  arts )  occupies  a  length  of  time,  and  the  manner  in  which 
this  length  of  time  is  divided  first  into  large  parts  and  then  into  phrases 
(or  built  up  from  phrases  to  form  eventual  larger  parts)  is  the  work's  very 
life  structure.  The  ballet  is  in  possession  of  a  tradition  of  clarity  of  its  rhyth- 
mic structure.  Essential  devices  for  bringing  this  about  have  been  handed 
down  generation  after  generation.  These  particular  devices,  again,  are  not 


to  be  borrowed  from  the  ballet:  they  are  private  to  it.  But  the  function  they 
fulfill  is  not  private;  it  is,  on  the  contrary,  universal. 

Oriental  dancing,  for  instance,  is  clear  in  its  phraseology.  It  has  its  own 
devices  for  obtaining  it.  Hot  jazz  is  never  unclear  rhythmically.  The  poems 
of  Gerard  Manley  Hopkins,  with  all  their  departure  from  tradition,  enable 
the  reader  to  breathe  with  them.  The  modern  dance,  on  the  other  hand,  is 
rarely  clear. 

When  a  modern  dancer  has  followed  music  that  was  clear  in  its  phrase 
structure,  the  dance  has  had  a  tendency  to  be  clear.  The  widespread  habit 
of  choreographing  the  dance  first,  and  obtaining  music  for  it  later,  is  not  in 
itself  here  criticized.  But  the  fact  that  modern  choreographers  have  been 
concerned  with  things  other  than  clarity  of  rhythmic  structure  has  made 
the  appearance  of  it,  when  the  dance-first-music-later  method  was  used, 
both  accidental  and  isolated.  This  has  led  to  a  disregard  of  rhythmic  struc- 
ture even  in  the  case  of  dancing  to  music  already  written,  for,  in  a  work 
like  Martha  Graham's  Deaths  and  Entrances,  an  audience  can  know  where 
it  is  in  relation  to  the  action  only  through  repeated  seeings  and  the  belying 
action  of  memory.  On  the  other  hand,  Martha  Graham  and  Louis  Horst 
together  were  able  to  make  magnificently  clear  and  moving  works  like  their 
Frontier,  which  works,  however,  stand  alarmingly  alone  in  the  history  of 
the  modern  dance. 

The  will  to  compromise,  mentioned  above,  and  the  admirable  humility 
implied  in  the  willingness  to  learn  from  other  art  manners  is  adolescent,  but 
it  is  much  closer  to  maturity  than  the  childish  blind  following  of  leaders 
that  was  characteristic  of  the  modern  dance  several  years  ago.  If,  in  receiv- 
ing influences  from  the  outside,  the  modern  dance  is  satisfied  with  copying, 
or  adapting  to  itself,  surface  particularities  (techniques,  movements,  de- 
vices of  any  kind),  it  will  die  before  it  reaches  maturity;  if,  on  the  other 
hand,  the  common  denominator  of  the  completely  developed  time  arts,  the 
secret  of  art  life,  is  discovered  by  the  modern  dance,  Terpsichore  will  have 
a  new  and  rich  source  of  worshippers. 

With  clarity  of  rhythmic  structure,  grace  forms  a  duality.  Together 
they  have  a  relation  like  that  of  body  and  soul.  Clarity  is  cold,  mathe- 
matical, inhuman,  but  basic  and  earthy.  Grace  is  warm,  incalculable,  hu- 
man, opposed  to  clarity,  and  like  the  air.  Grace  is  not  here  used  to  mean 
prettiness;  it  is  used  to  mean  the  play  with  and  against  the  clarity  of  the 


rhythmic  structure.  The  two  are  always  present  together  in  the  best  works 
of  the  time  arts,  endlessly,  and  lif e-givingly,  opposed  to  each  other. 

"In  the  finest  specimens  of  versification,  there  seems  to  be  a  perpetual 
conflict  between  the  law  of  the  verse  and  the  freedom  of  the  language,  and 
each  is  incessantly,  though  insignificantly,  violated  for  the  purpose  of 
giving  effect  to  the  other.  The  best  poet  is  not  he  whose  verses  are  the  most 
easily  scanned,  and  whose  phraseology  is  the  commonest  in  its  materials, 
and  the  most  direct  in  its  arrangement;  but  rather  he  whose  language  com- 
bines the  greatest  imaginative  accuracy  with  the  most  elaborate  and  sen- 
sible metrical  organisation,  and  who,  in  his  verse,  preserves  everywhere  the 
living  sense  of  the  metre,  not  so  much  by  unvarying  obedience  to,  as  by 
innumerable  small  departures  from,  its  modulus."  (Coventry  Patmore, 
Prefatory  Study  on  English  Metrical  Law,  1879,  pp.  12-13) 

The  "perpetual  conflict"  between  clarity  and  grace  is  what  makes  hot 
jazz  hot.  The  best  performers  continually  anticipate  or  delay  the  phrase 
beginnings  and  endings.  They  also,  in  their  performances,  treat  the  beat 
or  pulse,  and  indeed,  the  measure,  with  grace:  putting  more  or  fewer  icti 
within  the  measure's  limits  than  are  expected  ( similar  alterations  of  pitch 
and  timbre  are  also  customary),  contracting  or  extending  the  duration  of 
the  unit.  This,  not  syncopation,  is  what  pleases  the  hep-cats. 

Hindu  music  and  dancing  are  replete  with  grace.  This  is  possible  be- 
cause the  rhythmic  structure  in  Hindu  time  arts  is  highly  systematized,  has 
been  so  for  many  ages,  and  every  Hindu  who  enjoys  listening  to  music  or 
looking  at  the  dance  is  familiar  with  the  laws  of  tala.  Players,  dancers,  and 
audience  enjoy  hearing  and  seeing  the  laws  of  the  rhythmic  structure  now 
observed  and  now  ignored. 

This  is  what  occurs  in  a  beautifully  performed  classic  or  neo-classic 
ballet.  And  it  is  what  enables  one  to  experience  pleasure  in  such  a  perform- 
ance, despite  the  fact  that  such  works  are  relatively  meaningless  in  our 
modern  society.  That  one  should,  today,  have  to  see  Swan  Lake  or  some- 
thing equally  empty  of  contemporary  meaning  in  order  to  experience  the 
pleasure  of  observing  clarity  and  grace  in  the  dance,  is,  on  its  face,  lamen- 
table. Modern  society  needs,  as  usual,  and  now  desperately  needs,  a  strong 
modern  dance. 

The  opinion  expressed  here  is  that  clarity  of  rhythmic  structure  with 
grace  are  essential  to  the  time  arts,  that  together  they  constitute  an  aes- 


thetic  ( that  is,  they  he  under  and  beneath,  over  and  above,  physical  and 
personal  particularities),  and  that  they  rarely  occur  in  the  modern  dance; 
that  the  latter  has  no  aesthetic  (its  strength  having  been  and  being  the 
personal  property  of  its  originators  and  best  exponents ) ,  that,  in  order  for 
it  to  become  strong  and  useful  in  society,  mature  in  itself,  the  modern  dance 
must  clarify  its  rhythmic  structure,  then  enliven  it  with  grace,  and  so  get 
itself  a  theory,  the  common,  universal  one  about  what  is  beautiful  in  a 
time  art. 

In  Zen  they  say:  If  something  is  boring  after  two  minutes,  try  it  for  four.  If  still  boring,  try  it  for 
eight,  sixteen,  thirty-two,  and  so  on.  Eventually  one  discovers  that  it's  not  boring  at  all  but  very  interesting. 

At  the  New  School  once  I  was  substituting  for  Henry  Cowell,  teaching  a  class  in  Oriental  music.  I 
had  told  him  I  didn't  know  anything  about  the  subject.  He  said,  "That's  all  right.  Just  go  where  the 
records  are.  Take  one  out.  Play  it  and  then  discuss  it  with  the  class."  Well,  I  took  out  the  first  record.  It 
was  an  LP  of  a  Buddhist  service.  It  began  with  a  short  microtonal  chant  with  sliding  tones,  then  soon 
settled  into  a  single  loud  reiterated  percussive  beat.  This  noise  continued  relendessly  for  about  fifteen 
minutes  with  no  perceptible  variation.  A  lady  got  up  and  screamed,  and  then  yelled,  "Take  it  off.  I  can't 
bear  it  any  longer."  I  took  it  off.  A  man  in  the  class  then  said  angrily,  "Why'd  you  take  it  off?  I  was  just 
getting  interested." 

During  a  counterpoint  class  at  U.C.L.A.,  Schoenberg  sent  everybody  to  the  blackboard.  We  were  to 
solve  a  particular  problem  he  had  given  and  to  turn  around  when  finished  so  that  he  could  check  on  the 
correctness  of  the  solution.  I  did  as  directed.  He  said,  "That's  good.  Now  find  another  solution."  I  did. 
He  said,  "Another."  Again  I  found  one.  Again  he  said,  "Another."  And  so  on.  Finally,  I  said,  "There  are 
no  more  solutions."  He  said,  "What  is  the  principle  underlying  all  of  the  solutions?" 

I  went  to  a  concert  upstairs  in  Town  Hall.  The  composer  whose  works  were  being  performed  had 
provided  program  notes.  One  of  these  notes  was  to  the  effect  that  there  is  too  much  pain  in  the  world. 
After  the  concert  I  was  walking  along  with  the  composer  and  he  was  telling  me  how  the  performances 
had  not  been  quite  up  to  snuff.  So  I  said,  "Well,  I  enjoyed  the  music,  but  I  didn't  agree  with  that  program 
note  about  there  being  too  much  pain  in  the  world."  He  said,  "What?  Don't  you  think  there's  enough?" 
I  said,  "I  think  there's  just  the  right  amount." 


In  This  Day  . 

Many  of  my  performances  with  Merce  Cunningham  and  Dance  Company  are 
given  in  academic  situations.  Now  and  then  the  director  of  the  concert  series 
asks  for  an  introductory  talk.  The  following  remarks  were  written  for  audiences 
in  St.  Louis  and  at  Principia  College  in  the  autumn  of  1956.  Then  a  few 
months  later,  in  January  1957,  they  appeared  in  Dance  Observer. 

In  this  day  of  TV-darkened  homes,  a  live  performance  has  become  some- 
thing of  a  rarity,  so  much  so  that  Aaron  Copland  recently  said  a  concert  is  a 
thing  of  the  past.  Nevertheless,  I  would  like  to  say  a  few  words  regarding 
the  new  direction  taken  by  our  company  of  dancers  and  musicians. 

Though  some  of  the  dances  and  music  are  easily  enjoyed,  others  are 
perplexing  to  certain  people,  for  they  do  not  unfold  along  conventional 
lines.  For  one  thing,  there  is  an  independence  of  the  music  and  dance, 
which,  if  one  closely  observes,  is  present  also  in  the  seemingly  usual  works. 
This  independence  follows  from  Mr.  Cunningham's  faith,  which  I  share, 
that  the  support  of  the  dance  is  not  to  be  found  in  the  music  but  in  the 
dancer  himself,  on  his  own  two  legs,  that  is,  and  occasionally  on  a  single  one. 

Likewise  the  music  sometimes  consists  of  single  sounds  or  groups  of 
sounds  which  are  not  supported  by  harmonies  but  resound  within  a  space 
of  silence.  From  this  independence  of  music  and  dance  a  rhythm  results 
which  is  not  that  of  horses'  hoofs  or  other  regular  beats  but  which  reminds 
us  of  a  multiplicity  of  events  in  time  and  space— stars,  for  instance,  in  the 
sky,  or  activities  on  earth  viewed  from  the  air. 

We  are  not,  in  these  dances  and  music,  saying  something.  We  are 
simple-minded  enough  to  think  that  if  we  were  saying  something  we  would 
use  words.  We  are  rather  doing  something.  The  meaning  of  what  we  do  is 
determined  by  each  one  who  sees  and  hears  it.  At  a  recent  performance  of 
ours  at  Cornell  College  in  Iowa,  a  student  turned  to  a  teacher  and  said, 
"What  does  it  mean?"  The  teacher's  reply  was,  "Relax,  there  are  no  symbols 
here  to  confuse  you.  Enjoy  yourself  I"  I  may  add  there  are  no  stories  and  no 


psychological  problems.  There  is  simply  an  activity  of  movement,  sound, 
and  light.  The  costumes  are  all  simple  in  order  that  you  may  see  the 

The  movement  is  the  movement  of  the  body.  It  is  here  that  Mr.  Cun- 
ningham focuses  his  choreographic  attention,  not  on  the  facial  muscles.  In 
daily  life  people  customarily  observe  faces  and  hand  gestures,  translating 
what  they  see  into  psychological  terms.  Here,  however,  we  are  in  the  pres- 
ence of  a  dance  which  utilizes  the  entire  body,  requiring  for  its  enjoyment 
the  use  of  your  faculty  of  kinesthetic  sympathy.  It  is  this  faculty  we  employ 
when,  seeing  the  flight  of  birds,  we  ourselves,  by  identification,  fly  up,  glide, 
and  soar. 

The  activity  of  movement,  sound,  and  light,  we  believe,  is  expressive, 
but  what  it  expresses  is  determined  by  each  one  of  you— who  is  right,  as 
Pirandello's  title  has  it,  if  he  thinks  he  is. 

The  novelty  of  our  work  derives  therefore  from  our  having  moved 
away  from  simply  private  human  concerns  towards  the  world  of  nature 
and  society  of  which  all  of  us  are  a  part.  Our  intention  is  to  affirm  this  life, 
not  to  bring  order  out  of  chaos  nor  to  suggest  improvements  in  creation, 
but  simply  to  wake  up  to  the  very  life  were  living,  which  is  so  excellent 
once  one  gets  one's  mind  and  one's  desires  out  of  its  way  and  lets  it  act  of 
its  own  accord. 

When  Vera  Williams  first  noticed  that  I  was  interested  in  wild  mushrooms,  she  told  her  children 
not  to  touch  any  of  them  because  they  were  all  deadly  poisonous.  A  few  days  later  she  bought  a  steak 
at  Martino's  and  decided  to  serve  it  smothered  with  mushrooms.  When  she  started  to  cook  the  mushrooms, 
the  children  all  stopped  whatever  they  were  doing  and  watched  her  attentively.  When  she  served  dinner, 
they  all  burst  into  tears. 

One  day  I  went  to  the  dentist.  Over  the  radio  they  said  it  was  the  hottest  day  of  the  year.  However, 
I  was  wearing  a  jacket,  because  going  to  a  doctor  has  always  struck  me  as  a  somewhat  formal  occasion. 
In  the  midst  of  his  work,  Dr.  Heyman  stopped  and  said,  "Why  don't  you  take  your  jacket  off?"  I  said, 
"I  have  a  hole  in  my  shirt  and  that's  why  I  have  my  jacket  on."  He  said,  "Well,  I  have  a  hole  in  my  sock, 
and,  if  you  like,  111  take  my  shoes  off." 


This  piece  appeared  in  Dance  Magazine,  November  1957.  The  two  pages  were 
given  me  in  dummy  form  by  the  editors.  The  number  of  words  was  given  by 
chance  operations.  Imperfections  in  the  sheets  of  paper  upon  which  I  worked 
gave  the  position  in  space  of  the  fragments  of  text.  That  position  is  different  in 
this  printing,  for  it  is  the  result  of  working  on  two  other  sheets  of  paper,  of 
another  size  and  having  their  own  differently  placed  imperfections. 

2  Pages,  122  Words  on  Music  and  Dance 

To  obtain  the  value 

of  a  sound,  a  movement, 

measure  from  zero.  ( Pay  A  bird  flies 

attention  to  what  it  is, 

just  as  it  is. ) 

Slavery  is  abolished. 

the  woods 
A  sound  has  no  legs  to  stand  on. 

The  world  is  teeming:  anything  can 




Points  in 

time,  in 




the  heroic 


The  emotions 






Activities  which  are  different 
happen  in  a  time  which  is  a  space: 
are  each  central,  original. 

are  in  the  audience. 

The  telephone  rings. 
Each  person  is  in  the  best  seat. 

Is  there  a  glass  of  water? 

War  begins  at  any  moment. 



Each  now  is  the  time,  the  space. 

Are  eyes  open? 

Where  the  bird  flies,  fly. 



This  article,  completed  in  February  of  1961,  was  published  in  Metro  (Milan)  in 
May.  It  may  be  read  in  whole  or  in  part;  any  sections  of  it  may  be  skipped, 
what  remains  may  be  read  in  any  order.  The  style  of  printing  here  employed  is 
not  essential.  Any  of  the  sections  may  be  printed  directly  over  any  of  the  others, 
and  the  spaces  between  paragraphs  may  be  varied  in  any  manner.  The  words  in 
italics  are  either  quotations  from  Rauschenberg  or  titles  of  his  works. 

To  Whom  It  May  Concern: 
The  white  paintings  came 
first;  my  silent  piece 
came  later. 



Conversation  was  difficult  and  correspondence  virtually  ceased.  ( Not  because  of 
the  mails,  which  continued.)  People  spoke  of  messages,  perhaps  because  they'd 
not  heard  from  one  another  for  a  long  time.  Art  flourished. 

The  goat.  No  weeds.  Virtuosity  with  ease.  Does  his  head  have  a  bed  in  it? 
Beauty.  His  hands  and  his  feet,  fingers  and  toes  long-jointed,  are  astonishing.  They 
certify  his  work.  And  the  signature  is  nowhere  to  be  seen.  The  paintings  were 
thrown  into  the  river  after  the  exhibition.  What  is  the  nature  of  Art  when  it  reaches 
the  Sea? 

Beauty  is  now  underfoot  wherever  we  take  the  trouble  to  look.  (This  is  an 
American  discovery. )  Is  when  Rauschenberg  looks  an  idea?  Rather  it  is  an  enter- 
tainment in  which  to  celebrate  unfixity.  Why  did  he  make  black  paintings,  then 
white  ones  (coming  up  out  of  the  South),  red,  gold  ones  (the  gold  ones  were 
Christmas  presents),  ones  of  many  colors,  ones  with  objects  attached?  Why  did  he 
make  sculptures  with  rocks  suspended?  Talented? 

I  know  he  put  the  paint  on  the  tires.  And  he  unrolled  the  paper  on  the  city 
street.  But  which  one  of  us  drove  the  car? 


As  the  paintings  changed  the  printed  material  became  as  much  of  a  subject 
as  the  paint  ( I  began  using  newsprint  in  my  work )  causing  changes  of  focus:  A  third 
palette.  There  is  no  poor  subject  (Any  incentive  to  paint  is  as  good  as  any  other.). 
Dante  is  an  incentive,  providing  multiplicity,  as  useful  as  a  chicken  or  an  old  shirt. 
The  atmosphere  is  such  that  everything  is  seen  clearly,  even  in  the  dark  night  or 
when  thumbing  through  an  out-of-date  newspaper  or  poem.  This  subject  is  un- 
avoidable (A  canvas  is  never  empty.);  it  fills  an  empty  canvas.  And  if,  to  continue 
history,  newspapers  are  pasted  onto  the  canvas  and  on  one  another  and  black  paints 
are  applied,  the  subject  looms  up  in  several  different  places  at  once  like  magic  to 
produce  the  painting.  If  you  don't  see  it,  you  probably  need  a  pair  of  glasses.  But 
there  is  a  vast  difference  between  one  oculist  and  another,  and  when  it  is  a  question 
of  losing  eyesight  the  best  thing  to  do  is  to  go  to  the  best  oculist  (i.e.,  the  best 
painter:  he'll  fix  you  up ) .  Ideas  are  not  necessary.  It  is  more  useful  to  avoid  having 
one,  certainly  avoid  having  several  (leads  to  inactivity).  Is  Gloria  V.  a  subject  or 
an  idea?  Then,  tell  us:  How  many  times  was  she  married  and  what  do  you  do  when 
she  divorces  you? 

There  are  three  panels  taller  than  they  are  wide  fixed  together  to  make  a  single 
rectangle  wider  than  it  is  tall.  Across  the  whole  thing  is  a  series  of  colored  photos, 
some  wider  than  tall,  some  taller  than  wide,  fragments  of  posters,  some  of  them 
obscured  by  paint.  Underneath  these,  cutting  the  total  in  half,  is  a  series  of  rec- 
tangular color  swatches,  all  taller  than  wide.  Above,  bridging  two  of  the  panels, 
is  a  dark  blue  rectangle.  Below  and  slightly  out  of  line  with  the  blue  one,  since  it  is 
on  one  panel  only,  is  a  gray  rectangle  with  a  drawing  on  it  about  halfway  up.  There 
are  other  things,  but  mostly  attached  to  these  two  "roads"  which  cross:  off  to  the 
left  and  below  the  swatches  is  a  drawing  on  a  rectangle  on  a  rectangle  on  a  rectangle 
(its  situation  is  that  of  a  farm  on  the  outskirts  of  a  mainstreet  town).  This  is  not  a 
composition.  It  is  a  place  where  things  are,  as  on  a  table  or  on  a  town  seen  from 
the  air:  any  one  of  them  could  be  removed  and  another  come  into  its  place  through 
circumstances  analogous  to  birth  and  death,  travel,  housecleaning,  or  cluttering. 
He  is  not  saying;  he  is  painting.  (What  is  Rauschenberg  saying?)  The  message  is 
conveyed  by  dirt  which,  mixed  with  an  adhesive,  sticks  to  itself  and  to  the  canvas 


upon  which  he  places  it.  Crumbling  and  responding  to  changes  in  weather,  the 
dirt  unceasingly  does  my  thinking.  He  regrets  we  do  not  see  the  paint  while  it's 

Rauschenberg  is  continually  being  offered  scraps  of  this  and  that,  odds  and 
ends  his  friends  run  across,  since  it  strikes  them:  This  is  something  he  could  use 
in  a  painting.  Nine  times  out  of  ten  it  turns  out  he  has  no  use  for  it.  Say  it's  some- 
thing close  to  something  he  once  found  useful,  and  so  could  be  recognized  as  his. 
Well,  then,  as  a  matter  of  course,  his  poetry  has  moved  without  one's  knowing 
where  it's  gone  to.  He  changes  what  goes  on,  on  a  canvas,  but  he  does  not  change 
how  canvas  is  used  for  paintings— that  is,  stretched  flat  to  make  rectangular  surfaces 
which  may  be  hung  on  a  wall.  These  he  uses  singly,  joined  together,  or  placed  in  a 
symmetry  so  obvious  as  not  to  attract  interest  (nothing  special).  We  know  two 
ways  to  unfocus  attention:  symmetry  is  one  of  them;  the  other  is  the  over-all  where 
each  small  part  is  a  sample  of  what  you  find  elsewhere.  In  either  case,  there  is  at 
least  the  possibility  of  looking  anywhere,  not  just  where  someone  arranged  you 
should.  You  are  then  free  to  deal  with  your  freedom  just  as  the  artist  dealt  with 
his,  not  in  the  same  way  but,  nevertheless,  originally.  This  thing,  he  says,  duplication 
of  images,  that  is  symmetry.  All  it  means  is  that,  looking  closely,  we  see  as  it  was 
everything  is  in  chaos  still. 

To  change  the  subject:  "Art  is  the  imitation  of  nature  in  her  manner  of  opera- 
tion." Or  a  net. 


So  somebody  has  talent?  So  what?  Dime  a  dozen.  And  were  overpopulated. 
Actually  we  have  more  food  than  we  have  people  and  more  art.  We've  gotten  to 
the  point  of  burning  food.  When  will  we  begin  to  burn  our  art?  The  door  is  never 
locked.  Rauschenberg  walks  in.  No  one  home.  He  paints  a  new  painting  over  the 
old  one.  Is  there  a  talent  then  to  keep  the  two,  the  one  above,  the  one  below?  What 
a  plight  (it's  no  more  serious  than  that)  we're  in!  It's  a  joy  in  fact  to  begin  over 
again.  In  preparation  he  erases  the  De  Kooning. 

Is  the  door  locked?  No,  it's  open  as  usual.  Certainly  Rauschenberg  has  tech- 
niques. But  the  ones  he  has  he  disuses,  using  those  he  hasn't.  I  must  say  he  never 
forces  a  situation.  He  is  like  that  butcher  whose  knife  never  became  dull  simply 
because  he  cut  with  it  in  such  a  way  that  it  never  encountered  an  obstacle.  Modern 
art  has  no  need  for  technique.  (We  are  in  the  glory  of  not  knowing  what  we're 
doing. )  So  technique,  not  having  to  do  with  the  painting,  has  to  do  with  who's  look- 
ing and  who  painted.  People.  Technique  is :  how  are  the  people?  Not  how  well  did 
they  do  it,  but,  as  they  were  saying,  frailty.  ( He  says— and  is  he  speaking  of  tech- 
nique?—"What  do  you  want,  a  declaration  of  love?  I  take  responsibility  for  com- 
petence and  hope  to  have  made  something  hazardous  with  which  we  may  try 
ourselves.")  It  is  a  question,  then,  of  seeing  in  the  dark,  not  slipping  over  things 
visually.  Now  that  Rauschenberg  has  made  a  painting  with  radios  in  it,  does  that 
mean  that  even  without  radios,  I  must  go  on  listening  even  while  I'm  looking, 
everything  at  once,  in  order  not  to  be  run  over? 

Would  we  have  preferred  a  pig  with  an  apple  in  its  mouth?  That  too,  on 
occasion,  is  a  message  and  requires  a  blessing.  These  are  the  feelings  Rauschenberg 
gives  us:  love,  wonder,  laughter,  heroism  (I  accept),  fear,  sorrow,  anger,  disgust, 

There  is  no  more  subject  in  a  combine  than  there  is  in  a  page  from  a  news- 
paper. Each  thing  that  is  there  is  a  subject.  It  is  a  situation  involving  multiplicity. 


( It  is  no  reflection  on  the  weather  that  such-and-such  a  government  sent  a  note  to 
another.)  (And  the  three  radios  of  the  radio  combine,  turned  on,  which  provides 
the  subject?)  Say  there  was  a  message.  How  would  it  be  received?  And  what  if  it 
wasn't?  Over  and  over  again  I've  found  it  impossible  to  memorize  Rauschenberg's 
paintings.  I  keep  asking,  "Have  you  changed  it?"  And  then  noticing  while  I'm 
looking  it  changes.  I  look  out  the  window  and  see  the  icicles.  There,  dripping  water 
is  frozen  into  object.  The  icicles  all  go  down.  Winter  more  than  the  others  is  the 
season  of  quiescence.  There  is  no  dripping  when  the  paint  is  squeezed  from  a  tube. 
But  there  is  the  same  acceptance  of  what  happens  and  no  tendency  towards  gesture 
or  arrangement.  This  changes  the  notion  of  what  is  beautiful.  By  fixing  papers  to 
canvas  and  then  painting  with  black  paint,  black  became  infinite  and  previously 

Hallelujah!  The  blind  can  see  again.  Blind  to  what  he  has  seen  so  that  seeing 
this  time  is  as  though  first  seeing.  How  is  it  that  one  experiences  this,  for  example, 
with  the  two  Eisenhower  pictures  which  for  all  intents  and  purposes  are  the  same? 
(A  duplication  containing  duplications.)  Everything  is  so  much  the  same,  one 
becomes  acutely  aware  of  the  differences,  and  quickly.  And  where,  as  here,  the 
intention  is  unchanging,  it  is  clear  that  the  differences  are  unintentional,  as  unin- 
tended as  they  were  in  the  white  paintings  where  nothing  was  done.  Out  of  seeing, 
do  I  move  into  poetry?  And  is  this  a  poetry  in  which  Eisenhower  could  have  dis- 
appeared and  the  Mona  Lisa  taken  his  place?  I  think  so  but  I  do  not  see  so.  There 
is  no  doubt  about  which  way  is  up.  In  any  case  our  feet  are  on  the  ground.  Painting's 
place  is  on  the  wall— painting's  place,  that  is,  in  process.  When  I  showed  him  a 
photograph  of  one  of  Rauschenberg's  paintings,  he  said,  "If  I  had  a  painting,  I'd 
want  to  be  sure  it  would  stay  the  way  it  is;  this  one  is  a  collage  and  would  change." 
But  Rauschenberg  is  practical.  He  goes  along  with  things  just  as  they  are.  Just  as 
he  knows  it  goes  on  a  wall  and  not  any  which  way,  but  right  side  up,  so  he  knows, 
as  he  is,  it  is  changing  (which  one  more  quickly?  and  the  pyramids  change).  When 
possible,  and  by  various  means,  he  gives  it  a  push:  holes  through  which  one  sees 
behind  the  canvas  the  wall  to  which  it  is  committed;  the  reflective  surfaces  chang- 
ing what  is  seen  by  means  of  what  is  happening;  lights  going  on  and  off;  and  the 
radios.  The  white  paintings  were  airports  for  the  lights,  shadows,  and  particles. 


Now  in  a  metal  box  attached  by  a  rope,  the  history  kept  by  means  of  drawings  of 
what  was  taken  away  and  put  in  its  place,  of  a  painting  constantly  changing. 

There  is  in  Rauschenberg,  between  him  and  what  he  picks  up  to  use,  the  quality 
of  encounter.  For  the  first  time.  If,  as  happens,  there  is  a  series  of  paintings  con- 
taining such  and  such  a  material,  it  is  as  though  the  encounter  was  extended  into  a 
visit  on  the  part  of  the  stranger  (who  is  divine).  (In  this  way  societies  uninformed 
by  artists  coagulate  their  experiences  into  modes  of  communication  in  order  to 
make  mistakes. )  Shortly  the  stranger  leaves,  leaving  the  door  open. 

Having  made  the  empty  canvases  (A  canvas  is  never  empty.),  Rauschenberg 
became  the  giver  of  gifts.  Gifts,  unexpected  and  unnecessary,  are  ways  of  saying 
Yes  to  how  it  is,  a  holiday.  The  gifts  he  gives  are  not  picked  up  in  distant  lands  but 
are  things  we  already  have  (with  exceptions,  of  course:  I  needed  a  goat  and  the 
other  stuffed  birds,  since  I  don't  have  any,  and  I  needed  an  attic  in  order  to  go 
through  the  family  things  [since  we  moved  away,  the  relatives  write  to  say:  Do  you 
still  want  them?] ) ,  and  so  we  are  converted  to  the  enjoyment  of  our  possessions. 
Converted  from  what?  From  wanting  what  we  don't  have,  art  as  pained  struggle. 
Setting  out  one  day  for  a  birthday  party,  I  noticed  the  streets  were  full  of  presents. 
Were  he  saying  something  in  particular,  he  would  have  to  focus  the  painting;  as  it 
is  he  simply  focuses  himself,  and  everything,  a  pair  of  socks,  is  appropriate,  appro- 
priate to  poetry,  a  poetry  of  infinite  possibilities.  It  did  not  occur  to  me  to  ask  him 
why  he  chose  Dante  as  a  project  for  illustration.  Perhaps  it  is  because  we've  had 
it  around  so  long  so  close  to  us  without  bothering  to  put  it  to  use,  which  becomes  its 
meaning.  It  involved  a  stay  in  Florida  and  at  night,  looking  for  help,  a  walk  through 
land  infested  with  rattlesnakes.  Also  slipping  on  a  pier,  gashing  his  shin,  hanging, 
his  foot  caught,  not  calling  for  help.  The  technique  consists  in  having  a  plan:  Lay 


out  stretcher  on  floor  match  markings  and  join.  Three  stretchers  with  the  canvas  on 
them  no  doubt  already  stretched.  Fulfilling  this  plan  put  the  canvas  in  direct  contact 
with  the  floor,  the  ground  thereby  activated.  This  is  pure  conjecture  on  my  part  but 
would  work.  More  important  is  to  know  exactly  the  size  of  the  door  and  techniques 
for  getting  a  canvas  out  of  the  studio.  ( Combines  don't  roll  up. )  Anything  beyond 
that  size  must  be  suitably  segmented. 

I  remember  the  show  of  the  black  paintings  in  North  Carolina.  Quickly!  They 
have  become  masterpieces. 

Is  it  true  that  anything  can  be  changed,  seen  in  any  light,  and  is  not  destroyed 
by  the  action  of  shadows?  Then  you  won't  mind  when  I  interrupt  you  while  you're 


The  message  changes  in  the  combine-drawings,  made  with  pencil,  water  color, 
and  photographic  transfer:  (a)  the  work  is  done  on  a  table,  not  on  a  wall;  (b)  there 
is  no  oil  paint;  (c)  because  of  a  +  b,  no  dripping  holds  the  surface  in  one  plane; 
( d)  there  is  not  always  the  joining  of  rectangles  since  when  there  is,  it  acts  as  remi- 
niscence of  stretchers;  ( e )  the  outlines  appear  vague  as  in  water  or  air  ( our  feet  are 
off  the  ground);  (f)  I  imagine  being  upside  down;  (g)  the  pencil  lines  scan  the 
images  transferred  from  photographs;  (h)  it  seems  like  many  television  sets  work- 
ing simultaneously  all  tuned  differently.  How  to  respond  to  this  message?  (And  I 
remember  the  one  in  Dante  with  the  outline  of  the  toes  of  his  foot  above,  the 
changed  position  and  another  message,  the  paper  absorbing  the  color  and  spread- 
ing it  through  its  wet  tissues. )  He  has  removed  the  why  of  asking  why  and  you  can 
read  it  at  home  or  in  a  library.  ( These  others  are  poems  too. )  Perhaps  because  of 
the  change  in  gravity  (Monument  1958),  the  project  arose  of  illustrating  a  book. 
(A  book  can  be  read  at  a  table;  did  it  fall  on  the  floor?)  As  for  me,  I'm  not  so 
inclined  to  read  poetry  as  I  am  one  way  or  another  to  get  myself  a  television  set, 
sitting  up  nights  looking. 

Perhaps  after  all  there  is  no  message.  In  that  case  one  is  saved  the  trouble  of 
having  to  reply.  As  the  lady  said,  "Well,  if  it  isn't  art,  then  I  like  it."  Some  (a)  were 
made  to  hang  on  a  wall,  others  ( b )  to  be  in  a  room,  still  others  ( a  -f  b ) . 

By  now  we  must  have  gotten  the  message.  It  couldn't  have  been  more  explicit. 
Do  you  understand  this  idea?:  Painting  relates  to  both  art  and  life.  Neither  can  be 
made.  (I  try  to  act  in  that  gap  between  the  two.)  The  nothingness  in  between  is 
where  for  no  reason  at  all  every  practical  thing  that  one  actually  takes  the  time  to 
do  so  stirs  up  the  dregs  that  they're  no  longer  sitting  as  we  thought  on  the  bottom. 
All  you  need  do  is  stretch  canvas,  make  markings,  and  join.  You  have  then  turned  on 

ON    ROBERT    R  A  U  S  C  H  E  N  B  E  RG,    ARTIST,    AND    HIS    WORK/105 

the  switch  that  distinguishes  man,  his  ability  to  change  his  mind:  If  you  do  not 
change  your  mind  about  something  when  you  confront  a  picture  you  have  not  seen 
before,  you  are  either  a  stubborn  fool  or  the  painting  is  not  very  good.  Is  there  any 
need  before  we  go  to  bed  to  recite  the  history  of  the  changes  and  will  we  in  that 
bed  be  murdered?  And  how  will  our  dreams,  if  we  manage  to  go  to  sleep,  suggest 
the  next  practical  step?  Which  would  you  say  it  was:  wild,  or  elegant,  and  why? 
Now  as  I  come  to  the  end  of  my  rope,  I  noticed  the  color  is  incredibly  beautiful.  And 
that  embossed  box. 

I  am  trying  to  check  my  habits  of  seeing,  to  counter  them  for  the  sake  of  greater 
freshness.  I  am  trying  to  be  unfamiliar  with  what  I'm  doing. 

( I  cannot  remember  the  name  of  the  device  made  of  glass  which  has  inside  it 
a  delicately  balanced  mechanism  which  revolves  in  response  to  infrared  rays.) 
Rauschenberg  made  a  painting  combining  in  it  two  of  these  devices.  The  painting 
was  excited  when  anybody  came  near  it.  Belonging  to  friends  in  the  country,  it  was 
destroyed  by  a  cat.  If  he  takes  a  subject,  what  does  he  take?  And  what  does  he 
combine  with  it,  once  he's  put  it  in  place?  It's  like  looking  out  a  window.  (But  our 
windows  have  become  electronic:  everything  moves  through  the  point  where  our 
vision  is  focused;  wait  long  enough  and  you'll  get  the  Asiatic  panoply. )  Poetry  is 
free-wheeling.  You  get  its  impact  by  thumbing  through  any  of  the  mass  media.  The 
last  time  I  saw  him,  Rauschenberg  showed  me  a  combine-drawing,  and  while  I  was 

1  06/ SILENCE 

looking  he  was  speaking  and  instead  of  hearing  (I  was  looking)  I  just  got  the 
general  idea  that  this  was  an  autobiographical  drawing.  A  self-portrait  with  mul- 
tiplicity and  the  largest  unobstructed  area  given  to  the  white  painting,  the  one 
made  of  four  stretchers,  two  above,  two  below,  all  four  of  equal  size.  Into  this, 
structure  and  all,  anything  goes.  The  structure  was  not  the  point.  But  it  was  prac- 
tical: you  could  actually  see  that  everything  was  happening  without  anything's 
being  done.  Before  such  emptiness,  you  just  wait  to  see  what  you  will  see.  Is 
Rauschenberg's  mind  then  empty,  the  way  the  white  canvases  are?  Does  that  mean 
whatever  enters  it  has  room?  ( In,  of  course,  the  gap  between  art  and  life. )  And 
since  his  eyes  are  connected  to  his  mind,  he  can  see  what  he  looks  at  because  his 
head  is  clear,  uncluttered?  That  must  be  the  case,  for  only  in  a  mind  (twentieth) 
that  had  room  for  it  could  Dante  (thirteenth-fourteenth)  have  come  in  and  gone 
out.  What  next?  The  one  with  the  box  changed  by  the  people  who  look  at  it. 

What  do  images  do?  Do  they  illustrate?  ( It  was  a  New  Year's  Eve  party  in  the 
country  and  one  of  them  had  written  a  philosophical  book  and  was  searching  for  a 
picture  that  would  illustrate  a  particular  point  but  was  having  difficulty.  Another 
was  knitting,  following  the  rules  from  a  book  she  had  in  front  of  her.  The  rest  were 
talking,  trying  to  be  helpful.  The  suggestion  was  made  that  the  picture  in  the 
knitting  book  would  illustrate  the  point.  On  examination  it  was  found  that  every- 
thing on  the  page  was  relevant,  including  the  number. )  But  do  we  not  already 
have  too  much  to  look  at?  ( Generosity. )  Left  to  myself,  I  would  be  perfectly  con- 
tented with  black  pictures,  providing  Rauschenberg  had  painted  them.  (I  had  one, 
but  unfortunately  the  new  room  has  a  slanting  ceiling  and  besides  the  wall  isn't 
long  enough  for  it.  These  are  the  problems  that  have  no  solution,  such  as  the  suit 
wearing  out.)  But  going  along,  I  see  I'm  changing:  color's  not  so  bad  after  all.  (I 
must  have  been  annoyed  by  the  games  of  balance  and  what-not  they  played  with 
it. )  One  of  the  simplest  ideas  we  get  is  the  one  we  get  when  someone  is  weeping. 
Duchamp  was  in  a  rocking  chair.  I  was  weeping.  Years  later  but  in  the  same  part 
of  town  and  for  more  or  less  the  same  reason,  Rauschenberg  was  weeping. 


(The  white  paintings  caught  whatever  fell  on  them;  why  did  I  not  look  at 
them  with  my  magnifying  glass?  Only  because  I  didn't  yet  have  one?  Do  you  agree 
with  the  statement:  After  all,  nature  is  better  than  art?)  Where  does  beauty  begin 
and  where  does  it  end?  Where  it  ends  is  where  the  artist  begins.  In  this  way  we 
get  our  navigation  done  for  us.  If  you  hear  that  Rauschenberg  has  painted  a  new 
painting,  the  wisest  thing  to  do  is  to  drop  everything  and  manage  one  way  or 
another  to  see  it.  That's  how  to  learn  the  way  to  use  your  eyes,  sunup  the  next 
day.  If  I  were  teaching,  would  I  say  Caution  Watch  Your  Step  or  Throw  yourself 
in  where  the  fish  are  thickest?  Of  course,  there  are  objects.  Who  said  there  weren't? 
The  thing  is,  we  get  the  point  more  quickly  when  we  realize  it  is  we  looking 
rather  than  that  we  may  not  be  seeing  it.  (Why  do  all  the  people  who  are  not 
artists  seem  to  be  more  intelligent? )  And  object  is  fact,  not  symbol.  If  any  thinking 
is  going  to  take  place,  it  has  to  come  out  from  inside  the  Mason  jar  which  is  sus- 
pended in  Talisman,  or  from  the  center  of  the  rose  (is  it  red?)  or  the  eyes  of  the 
pitcher  (looks  like  something  out  of  a  movie)  or— the  farther  one  goes  in  this 
direction  the  more  one  sees  nothing  is  in  the  foreground:  each  minute  point  is  at 
the  center.  Did  this  happen  by  means  of  rectangles  ( the  picture  is  "cut"  through 
the  middle)?  Or  would  it  happen  given  this  point  of  view?  Not  ideas  but  facts. 

M.  C.  Richards  and  David  Tudor  invited  several  friends  to  dinner.  I  was  there  and  it  was  a  pleasure. 
After  dinner  we  were  sitting  around  talking.  David  Tudor  began  doing  some  paper  work  in  a  corner, 
perhaps  something  to  do  with  music,  though  I'm  not  sure.  After  a  while  there  was  a  pause  in  the  con- 
versation, and  someone  said  to  David  Tudor,  "Why  don't  you  join  the  party?"  He  said,  "I  haven't  left  it. 
This  is  how  I  keep  you  entertained." 

1  08/SILENCE 

This  lecture  was  printed  in  Incontri  Musicali,  August  1959.  There  are  jour 
measures  in  each  line  and  twelve  lines  in  each  unit  of  the  rhythmic  structure. 
There  are  forty-eight  such  units,  each  having  forty-eight  measures.  The 
whole  is  divided  into  five  large  parts,  in  the  proportion  7,  6,  14,  14,  7. 
The  forty-eight  measures  of  each  unit  are  likewise  so  divided.  The  text  is 
printed  in  four  columns  to  facilitate  a  rhythmic  reading.  Each  line  is  to  be 
read  across  the  page  from  left  to  right,  not  down  the  columns  in  sequence. 
This  should  not  he  done  in  an  artificial  manner  (which  might  result  from  an 
attempt  to  he  too  strictly  faithful  to  the  position  of  the  words  on  the  page),  hut 
with  the  rubato  which  one  uses  in  everyday  speech. 


I  am  here  ,  and  there  is  nothing  to  say 

If  among  you  are 

those  who  wish  to  get      somewhere  ,  let  them  leave  at 

any  moment  .  What  we  re-quire  is 

silence  ;  but  what  silence  requires 

is  that  I  go  on  talking 

Give  any  one  thought 

a  push  :  it  falls  down  easily 

;  but  the  pusher  and  the  pushed  pro-duce  that  enter- 

tainment called  a  dis-cussion 

Shall  we  have  one  later  ? 




,       we  could  simply  de— cide 

What  ever  you  like 
there  are  silences 
make  help  make 

and  I  am  saying  it 

as  I  need  it 

not  to  have  a  dis- 


and  the 


I  have  nothing  to  say 

and  that  is 

This  space  of  time  is  organized 

We  need  not  fear  these  silences,  — 



we  may  love  them 


just  as  I  make 
of  milk 
and  we  need  the 
empty  glass 


for  I  am  making  it 
a  piece  of  music. 

We  need  the 

Or  again 
into  which 

This  is  a  composed 

It  is  like  a  glass 


it  is  like  an 

at  any 

As  we  go  along 
an  i-dea  may  occur  in  this 

may  be  poured 

(who  knows?) 

or  not. 

gard  it  as  something        seen 
though  from  a  window 

If  across  Kansas  , 

almost  too  interesting      , 
being  interested  in  spite  of  himself 

needs  the  Kansas  in  him 

nothing  on  earth  , 

It  is  like  an  empty  glass  , 
is  it  corn  ? 

Kansas  has  this  about  it: 

and  whenever  one  wishes  one  may  return  to  it 


I  have  no  idea 

If  one  does, 


while  traveling 

then,  of  course, 

is  more 
especially       for  a  New- 
in  everything. 

and  for  a  New  Yorker 
nothing  but  wheat 
Does  it  matter  which 
at  any  instant, 


whether  one  will 

let  it.  Re- 

,  as 




Yorker  who  is 

Now  he  knows  he 

Kansas  is  like 

very  refreshing. 

,  or 


one  may  leave  it, 

Or  you  may  leave  it        forever 

for  we  pos-sess  nothing 
is  the  reali-zation 


(since  we  do  not       pos-sess  it) 

and  never  return  to  it 

that  we  possess 
and  thus 

at  any  moment, 


owned  it, 

1  10/SILENCE 

We  need  not  destroy  the  past: 

it  might  reappear  and  seem  to  be 

Would  it  be  a  repetition? 

but  since  we  don't,  it  is  free 



Our  poetry  now 


is  a  delight 

need  not  fear  its  loss 

it  is  gone; 

be  the  present 

Only  if  we  thought  we 

so  are  we 

and  how  un-certain  it  is 

Most  anybody  knows  a-bout  the  future 

What  I  am  calling  poetry 

I  myself  have  called 

nuity  of  a  piece  of  music. 

when  it  is  necessary         , 

interestedness.  That  is, 

lies  in  not  pos-sessing  anything 

presents  what  happens    . 

this  form  sense  is 

is  often  called 
it  form 

is  a  demonstration 
it  is  a  proof 



It  is  the  conti- 

of  dis- 

that  our  delight 
Each  moment 
How  different 
from  that  which  is  bound  up  with 



and  secondary  themes; 

their  struggle; 

their  development; 

the  climax; 

the  recapitulation 

(which  is  the  belief 

that  one  may 

own  one's  own 


But  actually, 

unlike  the  snail 

,                  we 

carry  our  homes 

within  us, 

which  enables  us 


to  fly 

or  to  stay 


to  enjoy 


But  beware  of 

that  which  is 



for  at  any  moment 

the  telephone 

may  ring 

or  the  airplane 

come  down  in  a 

vacant  lot 


A  piece  of  string 

or  a  sunset 


possessing  neither 


each  acts 

and  the  continuity 



Nothing  more 

than          nothing 

can  be  said. 


or  making  this 

in  music 

is  not  different 


only  simpler  — 

than  living  this  way 


Simpler,  that  is                ,                       for  me,  —  because  it  happens 

that  I  write  music 


Iff     Iff 

That  music  is 

simple  to  make                comes  from 

one's  willingness  to  ac- 


the  limitations 

of  structure. 

Structure  is 


be— cause 

it  can  be  thought  out, 

figured  out, 



It  is  a  discipline 



in  return 

accepts  whatever 

,                       even  those 

rare  moments 

of  ecstasy, 

which,                 as 

sugar  loaves  train  horses, 

train  us 

to  make  what  we 


How  could  I 


better  tell 

what  structure 


than  simply  to 


about  this, 

this  talk 

which  is 



a  space  of  time 


forty  minutes 




That  forty  minutes  has  been  divided  into      five  large  parts,  and 

each  unit  is  divided  likewise.  Subdivision  in- 

volving a  square  root  is  the  only  possible  subdivision  which 

permits  this  micro-macrocosmic  rhythmic  structure  , 

which  I  find  so  acceptable  and  accepting 

As  you  see,  I  can  say  anything 

It  makes  very  little  difference  what  I  say  or  even  how  I  say  it. 

At  this  par-ticular  moment,  we  are  passing  through   the  fourth 

part  of  a  unit  which  is  the  second  unit  in  the  second  large 

part  of  this  talk  .  It  is  a  little  bit  like  passing  through  Kansas 

This,  now,  is  the  end  of  that  second  unit 

Now  begins  the 

third  unit 

of  the  second  part 

Now  the 

second  part  of  that  third  unit 

Now  its  third  part 


as  the  third  part) 

(which,  by  the  way, 

Now  its  fourth 
is  just  the  same 

Now  the  fifth 

and  last  part 

You  have  just 
point  of  view 
large  part, 

1  1  2/SILENCE 

ex-perienced  the  structure  of  this  talk 

point  of  view  .  From  a  macrocosmic 

we  are  just  passing  the  halfway  point  in  the  second 

The  first  part  was  a  rather  rambling     discussion  of 

,  of  form,  and  continuity 

from  a 

when  it 




we     now 


what  it  is 


its  limitations 


This  one 

need  it.  This  second 

is  about  structure:  how  simple  it  is 

and  why  we  should  be  willing 

Most  speeches  are  full 

doesn't  have  to  have       any 


But  at  any  moment         an  idea 
Then  we  may  enjoy  it 


may  come  along 


without  life 

is  dead. 

But  Life                       without 


is  un-seen 


Pure  life 

expresses  itself 


and  through  structure 


Each  moment 

is  absolute, 

alive  and  sig- 



rise                from 

a  field  making                             a 






I  heard  them 


I  ac-cepted 

the  limitations 

of  an  arts 


in  a  Virginia 

girls'  finishing  school, 

which  limitations 

allowed  me 

quite  by  accident 

to  hear  the  blackbirds 

as  they  flew  up 

and          overhead 


There  was  a  social 


and  hours  for  breakfast 


but  one  day  I  saw  a 



and  the  same  day 

heard  a  woodpecker. 

I  also  met 

America's  youngest 

college  president 



she  has  resigned, 

and  people  say  she  is 

going  into  politics 


Let  her. 

Why  shouldn't  she?         I  also  had  the 


of  hearing  an  eminent 

music  critic 


that  he  hoped 

he  would  live  long 

e-nough              to  i 

see  the  end 

of  this 

craze  for  Bach. 

A  pupil  once 

said  to  me:                       I 


what  you  say 



and  I  think 

I  agree 

but  I  have  a 

very  serious 

question                         to 

ask  you: 

How  do  you 


about  Bach 


Now  we  have 


to  the  end                           of  the 


about  structure 


Iff     HT 


it  oc-curs 

to  me  to  say  more 

about  structure 




We  are 

now  at 

the  be-ginning 

of  the  third  part 

and  that  part 


is  not  the  part 
about  material, 
clear  from  that 
as  we  have  seen, 
ginning  to  get 

devoted  to  structure. 

But  I'm  still  talking        about  structure. 

that  structure  has 

form  has  no  point  either, 


It's  the  part 
It  must  be 
no  point,  and, 

Clearly  we  are  be- 

Unless  some         other  i-dea  crops  up 

a-bout  it  that  is 

all  I  have 

to  say  about  structure 

is  it  interesting 

Now  about 


It  is  and  it 




If  one  is  making 



the  one  making  must 

love                      and  be 

the  material 

he  chooses. 

Otherwise                    he 


which  is  precisely  something 




was  being  made; 




nothing  is  anonymous 

The  technique 

of  handling  materials 

what  structure 

as  a 

discipline  is           on  1 

;he  rational  level 

a  means 

of  experiencing 


I  remember  loving  sound  before  I  ever 

And  so  we  make  our  lives 

But  one  thing  is 
which  is  to  be  nothing 
patient  with 

calls  attention  to  the 
whereas  it  was 
he  calls  attention  to 

is,  on  the  sense  level 


took  a  music  lesson 

by  what  we  love 


(Last  year 

when  I  talked  here 

I  made  a  short  talk. 

That  was  because 

I  was  talking 

about  something 

;                                   but 

this  year 

I  am  talking 

about  nothing 


of  course  will  go  on          talking 

for  a  long  time 


The  other  day  a 

pupil  said, 

after  trying  to  compose         a  melody 

using  only 

three  tones, 


felt  limited 



Had  she 

con-cerned  herself 

with  the  three  tones  — 

her  materials 


she  would  not 

have  felt  limited 


and         since  materials                       are  without  feeling, 

there  would  not  have      been 

any  limitation. 

It  was  all  in  her 

1  1  4/  SILENCE 


,                  whereas  it  be-longed 

in  the 



It  became  something 

by  not  being 


it  would  have  been 

nothing  by  being 



Should  one  use  the 



of  one's  time 


Now  there's  a  question 

that  ought  to  get  us 



It  is  an  intel- 

lectual  question 


I  shall  answer  it 






I  remember               as  a  child 

all  the  sounds 


even  the  unprepared 


I  liked  them 


when  there  was  one  at 
A  five-finger  exercise 

a  time 


for  one  hand  was 

full  of  beauty 


Later  on  I 

gradually  liked 

all  the  intervals 


As  I  look  back 

I  realize           that  I  be-gan  liking  the  octave 


I  accepted  the 

major  and  minor 


Perhaps,            of  all  the  intervals, 

I  liked  these  thirds 



Through  the  music  of 



I  became  passionately 


of  the  fifth 

Or  perhaps  you  could 

call  it 

puppy-dog  love 


for  the  fifth  did  not  make  me 

want  to  write  music: 

:       it  made  me  want  to  de- 

vote  my  life  to 

playing  the  works  of  Grieg 


I  took,  like  a  duck 
seconds,  the 

didn't  like  the  sound 
Bach  was  the 

really  liked  the 
liked  Brahms 

When  later  I  heard 

to  water,  to  all  the  modern  intervals: 

tritone,  and  the  fourth 

I  liked  Bach  too  a-bout  this  time 

of  the  thirds  and  sixths, 
way  many  things 

keep  on  re-membering, 

thirds,  and  this  explains 


modern  music, 
the  sevenths, 


but  I 
What  I  admired  in 

went  together 

I  see  that  I  never 

why  I  never  really 


Modern  music 




fascinated  me  with  all  its  modern 

the  seconds,  the  tritone,  and  the 

every  now  and  then,        there  was  a  fifth, 
Sometimes      there  were  single  tones, 

and  that  was  a  de- 
tervals  in  modern  music  that  it  fascinated 
fascinated  by  it  I        de-cided 
first  is  difficult: 

takes  the  ear  off  it 
I  was  free  to  hear  that  a  high  sound 

low  sound  even  when  both  are  called  by  the  same  letter, 

working  alone  , 


me  rather  than  that  I 
to  write  it. 
that  is, 


Studying  with  a 


in  their  progressions 

I  worked  at  it 

feeling  for  it 

gressions  called 

as  to  imply 

fool  everyone  by  not 





they  are  not  just 

a  sound 


de— ceptive  cadences. 

the  presence 

landing  on  it  — 

The  whole  question  is 
modern  music 


I  began  to  feel 

I  learned  that  the 

not  actually 
I  never  liked  tonality 
Studied  it. 
for  instance: 
The  idea  is  this: 
of  a  tone  not  actually 
land  somewhere  else. 
Not  the  ear 
very  intellectual 
still  fascinated  me 

intervals:  the 

fourth  and 

and  that  pleased  me 
not  intervals  at 
There  were  so  many  in- 
loved  it,  and  being 
Writing  it  at 
putting  the  mind  on  it 
doing  it  alone, 
different  from  a 

After  several  years  of 

intervals  have 

but  they  imply 
present  to  the  ear 

But  I  never  had  any 
there  are  some  pro- 

progress  in  such  a  way 
present;  then 

What  is  being 
but  the  mind 

the  mind  had  fixed  it 
make  one  think  of 

with  all  its  modern 
have  them  , 

void  having  pro-gressions  that  would 

not  actually  present        to  the  ear 
did  not  ap-peal  to  me 

that  the  separation  of     mind  and  ear  had  spoiled 

,  —  that  a  clean  slate  was  necessary, 

not  only  contemporary    ,  but  "avant-garde." 

They  had  not  been     in-tellectualized; 
directly  and  didn't  have  to  go  through  any  abstraction 

1  1  6/SILENCE 



But  in  order  to 

so  that  one  had  to  a- 

sounds  that  were 


I  began  to  see 


This  made  me 

I  used  noises 

ear  could  hear  them 

bout  them 

liked  intervals. 

I  found  that  I 
I  liked  noises 

liked  noises 
just  as  much  as  I  had 

even  more  than  I 
liked  single  sounds 

,  had  been  discriminated  against 

having  been  trained         to  be  sentimental, 

I  fought 

Noises,  too 
and  being  American, 

for  noises.  I  liked  being 

on  the  side  of  the 
I  got  police 
I  ever  found 
pickup  arm 
really  shocking, 
half  sentimentally 
to  be  no  truth, 

But  quiet  sounds 


Life,  Time  and 

I  still  feel  this  way 

though  they  are 
not  worn  out 
new  sounds. 

per-mission  to  play  sirens.  The  most  amazing  noise 

was  that  produced  by  means  of  a  coil  of  wire    attached  to  the 

of  a  phonograph  and  then      amplified.  It  was  shocking, 

and  thunderous  .  Half  intellectually  and 

,  when  the  war  came   a-long,  I  decided  to  use 

quiet  sounds 
no  good, 

or  friendship 

in  anything  big 
were  like  loneliness 


but  something  else  is 

There  seemed  to  me 
in  society. 


I  begin  to  hear 

the  ones  I  had  thought   worn  out, 

I  begin  to  hear  the  old  sounds 

not  worn  out 

They  are  just  as 
Thinking  had  worn  them  out 

Permanent,  I  thought 
at  least  from 
I  must  say 
the  old  sounds 
worn  out  by 


Obviously,  they  are 
audible  as  the 

And  i 

f  one 

stops  thinking  aboi 

it        them, 
"If  you 

suddenly  they  are 





you  are  a  ghost 

you  will  become  a 



Thinking  the  sounds 

worn  out 

wore  them  out 


So  you  see 


this  question 

brings  us  back 

where  we  were: 




if  you  like 



we  are 


I  have 

a  story: 

"There  was  once  a  ] 



standing  on  a  high  elevation.  A  company  of  several  men  who  happened  to  be  walking  on  the  road 
noticed  from  the  distance  the  man  standing  on  the  high  place  and  talked  among  themselves  about 
this  man.  One  of  them  said:  He  must  have  lost  his  favorite  animal.  Another  man  said 
:  No,  it  must  be  his  friend  whom  he  is  looking  for.  A  third  one  said: 


place  where  the  man 


lost  your  pet  animal 

later?)  went  on  until 

He  is  just  enjoying  the  cool  air  up  there.  The  three  could  not 

(Shall  we  have  one 

O,  friend 

The  second  man  asked 
No,  sir 


and  the  dis- 

standing  up  there 
No,  sir, 



the  fresh  breeze 

I  am  not 

up  there? 

they  reached  the  high 
One  of  the  three 
,  have  you  not 

I  have  not  lost  any 
:  Have  you  not  lost  your  friend 

,  I  have  not  lost  my  friend 

The  third  man  asked:      Are  you  not  enjoying 
No,  sir  , 

What,  then 

,  are  you  standing  up  there 

if  you  say  no 
questions  ? 

I  just  stand  ." 

no  questions,  there  are  no  answers 

,  then,  of  course, 

final  answer  makes  the 

,  whereas  the  questions, 

than  the  answers 


The  man  on  high  said 

to  all  our 

there  are  answers 


up  until  then, 


I  take  all  the  tones 
use  all  the  others 
When  I  was  young, 
Now  I'm  fifty 

how  he  wrote 
there  are, 

people  told  me: 

If  there  are 
If  there  are  questions 
,  but  the 

seem  absurd 
seem  more  intelligent 
Somebody  asked       De- 
He  said: 
don't  want,  and 

you're  fifty  years  old 


Here  we  are  now 

More  and  more 

of  the  fourth  large  part 


we  are  getting 


leave  out  the  ones  I 
Satie  said 
You'll  see  when 
I've  seen  nothing 


at  the  beginning 
of  this  talk. 
I  have  the  feeling  that  we  are  getting 

,  as  the  talk  goes  on 


and  that  is  a  pleasure 

1  1  8/SILENCE 

only  irritating 


fourth  large  part 

It  is  not  irritating  to  be  where  one  is 

to  think  one  would  like       to  be  somewhere  else, 
a  little  bit  after  the  beginning 

of  this  talk 
we  have  the  feeling 

Here  we  are  now 

It  is 

of  the 


of  being 
is  sleepy 

Here  we  are  now 
third  unit 
More  and  more 

only  irritating 


fourth  large  part 

More  and  more 
that  I  am  getting 


we  are  getting 
which  will  continue 
it  is  not  a  pleasure 
if  one  is  irritated 
it  is  a  pleasure 
it  is  not  irritating 
and  slowly 

we  were  nowhere 
we  are  having 




the  pleasure 
let  him  go  to  sleep 


as  the  talk  goes  on 

we  have  the  feeling 
That  is  a  pleasure 
If  we  are  irritated 
Nothing  is  not  a 

but  suddenly 
and  then  more  and  more 
(and  then  more  and  more 
and  now,  again 

If  anybody 

of  the  fourth  large  part 


we  are  getting 
It  is  not  irritating 
to  think  one  would  like 
a  little  bit  after  the 

More  and  more 
that  I  am  getting 


we  are  getting 

at  the  beginning 
of  this  talk. 

of  the 

I  have  the  feeling 

to  be  where  one  is 

to  be  somewhere  else. 

that  we  are  getting 
as  the  talk  goes  on 
and  that  is  a  pleasure 

Here  we  are  now 


of  this  talk 

we  have  the  feeling 


of  the  third  unit 

It  is 

of  the 

as  the  talk  goes  on 



we  have  the  feeling 
That  is  a  pleasure 


which  will  continue 


If  we  are  irritated 


it  is  not  a  pleasure 


Nothing  is  not                a 


if  one  is  irritated 


but  suddenly 


it  is  a  pleasure 


and  then  more  and  more 

it  is  not  irritating 


(and  then  more  and  more 

and  slowly 



we  were  nowhere 


and  now,  again 


we  are  having 

the  pleasure 

of  being 



If  anybody 

is  sleepy 


let  him  go  to  sleep 




Here  we  are  now 

ie  beginning                of  the 

fifth  unit 

of  the  fourth  large  part 

of  this  talk. 

More  and  more 

I  have  the  feeling 

that  we  are  getting 




as  the  talk  goes  on 


we  are  getting 


and  that  is  a  pleasure 


It  is  not  irritating 

to  be  where  one  is 

It  is 

only  irritating 

to  think  one  would  like        to  be  somewhere  else. 

Here  we  are  now 


a  little  bit  after  the 

beginning               of  the  fifth  unit                 of  the 

fourth  large  part 

of  this  talk 


More  and  more 

we  have  the  feeling 

that  I  am  getting 





as  the  talk  goes  on 



we  have  the  feeling 

we  are  getting 


That  is  a  pleasure 

which  will  continue 


If  we  are  irritated 


it  is  not  a  pleasure 


Nothing  is  not                a 


if  one  is  irritated 


but  suddenly 


it  is  a  pleasure 


and  then  more  and  more 

it  is  not  irritating 

(and  then  more  and  more 

and  slowly 



we  were  nowhere 


and  now,  again 


we  are  having 

the  pleasure 

of  being 



If  anybody 

is  sleepy 


let  him  go  to  sleep 


1  20/SILENCE 

Here  we  are  now 

More  and  more 

only  irritating 
fourth  large  part 


of  being 
is  sleepy 

Here  we  are  now 
ninth  unit 
More  and  more 

only  irritating 
fourth  large  part 

of  the  fourth  large  part 


we  are  getting 
It  is  not  irritating 
to  think  one  would  like 
a  little  bit  after  the 

More  and  more 
that  I  am  getting 


we  are  getting 
which  will  continue 
it  is  not  a  pleasure 

if  one  is  irritated 
it  is  a  pleasure 

it  is  not  irritating 
and  slowly 

we  were  nowhere 

we  are  having 


at  the  middle 
of  this  talk. 

I  have  the  feeling 


to  be  where  one  is 
to  be  somewhere  else, 
of  this  talk 
we  have  the  feeling 



that  we  are  getting 
as  the  talk  goes  on 
and  that  is  a  pleasure 

It  is 
Here  we  are  now 

of  the 


the  pleasure 
let  him  go  to  sleep 

as  the  talk  goes  on 

we  have  the  feeling 
That  is  a  pleasure 
If  we  are  irritated 
Nothing  is  not  a 

but  suddenly 
and  then  more  and  more 
(and  then  more  and  more 
and  now,  again 

If  anybody 

of  the  fourth  large  part 


we  are  getting 
It  is  not  irritating 
to  think  one  would  like 
a  little  bit  after  the 

More  and  more 

at  the  beginning 
of  this  talk. 

of  the 

I  have  the  feeling 


to  be  where  one  is 

to  be  somewhere  else. 

that  we  are  getting 
as  the  talk  goes  on 
and  that  is  a  pleasure 

It  is 
Here  we  are  now 

of  the 

beginning  of  the  ninth  unit 

of  this  talk 

we  have  the  feeling 


that  I  am  getting 






as  the  talk  goes  on 



we  have  the  feeling 

we  are  getting 


That  is  a  pleasure 

which  will  continue 


If  we  are  irritated 


it  is  not  a  pleasure 


Nothing  is  not                a 


if  one  is  irritated 


but  suddenly 


it  is  a  pleasure 


and  then  more  and  more 

it  is  not  irritating 

(and  then  more  and  more 

and  slowly 



we  were  nowhere 


and  now,  again 


we  are  having 

the  pleasure 

of  being 



If  anybody 

is  sleepy 


let  him  go  to  sleep 


Here  we  are  now 

at  the  beginning                of  the 

eleventh  unit 

of  the  fourth  large  part 

of  this  talk. 

More  and  more 

I  have  the  feeling 

that  we  are  getting 




as  the  talk  goes  on 


we  are  getting 


and  that  is  a  pleasure 


It  is  not  irritating 

to  be  where  one  is 

It  is 

only  irritating 

to  think  one  would  like 

to  be  somewhere  else. 

Here  we  are  now 


a  little  bit  after  the 

beginning               of  the  eleventh  unit          of  the 

fourth  large  part 

of  this  talk 


More  and  more 

we  have  the  feeling 

that  I  am  getting 






as  the  talk  goes  on 



we  have  the  feeling 

we  are  getting 


That  is  a  pleasure 

which  will  continue 


If  we  are  irritated 


it  is  not  a  pleasure 


Nothing  is  not                a 


if  one  is  irritated 


but  suddenly 


it  is  a  pleasure 


and  then  more  and  more 

it  is  not  irritating 

(and  then  more  and  more 


and  slowly 



we  were  nowhere 


and  now,  again 


we  are  having 

the  pleasure 

of  being 



If  anybody 

is  sleepy 


let  him  go  to  sleep 



Here  we  are  now 

le  beginning  of  the  thir- 

teenth  unit 

of  the  fourth  large  part 

of  this  talk. 

More  and  more 

I  have  the  feeling 

that  we  are  getting 




as  the  talk  goes  on 


we  are  getting 


and  that  is  a  pleasure 


It  is  not  irritating 

to  be  where  one  is 

It  is 

only  irritating 

to  think  one  would  like        to  be  somewhere  else. 

Here  we  are  now 


a  little  bit  after  the 

beginning  of  the       thir-teenth  unit              of  the 

fourth  large  part 

of  this  talk 


More  and  more 

we  have  the  feeling 

that  I  am  getting 







as  the  talk  goes  on 



we  have  the  feeling 

we  are  getting 


That  is  a  pleasure 

which  will  continue 


If  we  are  irritated 


it  is  not  a  pleasure 


Nothing  is  not                a 


if  one  is  irritated 


but  suddenly 


it  is  a  pleasure 


and  then  more  and  more 

it  is  not  irritating 

(and  then  more  and  more 

and  slowly 



we  were  nowhere 


and  now,  again 


we  are  having 

the  pleasure 

of  being 



If  anybody 

is  sleepy 


let  him  go  to  sleep 

TIP      TIP 





That  is  finished 

It  was  a  pleasure 


And  now  , 

"Read  me  that  part     a-gain  where  I  disin-herit  everybody 

The  twelve-tone  row 

method  is  a  control  of  each 

note.  There  is  too  much  there  there 

There  is  not  enough         of  nothing  in  it 

like  a  bridge  from  nowhere  to 

anyone  may  go  on  it  : 

,  corn  or  wheat 

?  I  thought  there  were  eighty-eight  tones 

You  can  quarter  them  too 

If  it  were  feet  ,  would  it  be  a  two-tone  row 

?  Or  can  we  fly  from  here  to  where 

1  24/SILENCE 

this  is  a  pleasure. 

is  a  method;  a 


A  structure  is 
nowhere  and 

noises  or  tones 
Does  it  matter  which 


I  have  nothing 

against  the           twelve-tone  row; 

but  it  is  a 


not  a  structure 


We  really  do  need  a  structure 


so  we  can  see 

we  are  nowhere 


Much  of  the  music 

I       love 

uses  the  twelve— tone        row 


but  that  is  not  why  I 

love  it. 

I  love  it 

for  no  reason 


I  love  it 

for  suddenly 

I  am  nowhere 


(My  own  music  does  that 

quickly  for  me 


And  it  seems  to  me 

I  could 

listen  forever 

to  Japanese 

shakuhachi  music 


or  the  Navajo 


Or  I  could  sit  or 


near  Richard  Lippold's 

Full  Moon 

any  length  of  time 


Chinese  bronzes 

> — 

how  I  love  them 


But  those  beauties 


which  others            have  made, 

tend  to  stir  up 

the  need  to  possess 

and  I  know 

I  possess 



Record  collections 


that  is  not  music 



The  phonograph 

is  a  thing,  - 

not  a  musical 


A  thing  leads  to  other  things, 

whereas  a 

musical  instrument 

leads  to  nothing 


Would  you  like  to  join 

a  society  called 

Capitalists  Inc. 


(Just  so  no  one  would 

think  we  were 


Anyone  joining 


becomes  president 


To  join 

you  must  show 

you've  destroyed 

at  least  one  hundred 


or,  in  the  case  of 


one  sound  mirror 


To  imagine  you 


any  piece  of  music 

is  to  miss 

the  whole  point 


There  is  no  point 

or  the  point 

is  nothing; 

and  even 

a  long-playing 



is  a  thing. 


A  lady  from  Texas  said:  I  live  in  Texas 

We  have  no  music       in  Texas.  The  reason  they've  no 

music  in  Texas  is  because  they  have  recordings 

in  Texas.  Remove  the  records  from  Texas 

and  someone  will  learn  to  sing 

Everybody  has  a  song 

which  is  no  song  at  all  : 

it  is  a  process  of  singing  , 

and  when  you  sing  , 

you  are  where  you  are 

All  I  know  about  method  is  that  when  I  am  not  working  I  sometimes 
think  I  know  something,  but  when  I  am  working,  it  is  quite  clear  that  I  know  nothing. 

up   w 

Afternote  to  LECTURE  ON  NOTHING 

In  keeping  with  the  thought  expressed  above  that  a  discussion  is  nothing  more 
than  an  entertainment,  I  prepared  six  answers  for  the  first  six  questions  asked, 
regardless  of  what  they  were.  In  1949  or  '50,  when  the  lecture  was  first 
delivered  (at  the  Artists'  Club  as  described  in  the  Foreword),  there  were  six 
questions.  In  1960,  however,  when  the  speech  was  delivered  for  the  second 
time,  the  audience  got  the  point  after  two  questions  and,  not  wishing  to  be 
entertained,  refrained  from  asking  anything  more. 
The  answers  are: 

1 .  That  is  a  very  good  question.  I  should  not  want  to  spoil  it  with  an 

2.  My  head  wants  to  ache. 

3.  Had  you  heard  Mary  a  Freund  last  April  in  Palermo  singing  Arnold 
Schoenberg's  Pierrot  Lunaire,  I  doubt  whether  you  would  ask  that 

4.  According  to  the  Farmers'  Almanac  this  is  False  Spring. 

5.  Please  repeat  the  question  . . . 
And  again  . . . 

And  again  . . . 

6.  I  have  no  more  answers. 
1  26/SILENCE 

Now  giving  lecture  on  Japanese  poetry.  First 
giving  very  old  Japanese  poem,  very  classical: 

Oh  willow  tree, 

Why  are  you  so  sad,  willow  tree? 

Maybe  baby? 

Now  giving  nineteenth-century  romantic  Jap- 
anese poem: 

Oh  bird,  sitting  on  willow  tree, 

Why  are  you  so  sad,  bird? 

Maybe  baby? 

Now  giving  up-to-the-minute  twentieth-cen- 
tury Japanese  poem,  very  modern: 

Oh  stream,  flowing  past  willow  tree, 

Why  are  you  so  sad,  stream? 


I  was  never  psychoanalyzed.  I'll  tell  you  how 
it  happened.  I  always  had  a  chip  on  my  shoulder 
about  psychoanalysis.  I  knew  the  remark  of  Rilke 
to  a  friend  of  his  who  wanted  him  to  be  psycho- 
analyzed. Rilke  said,  "I'm  sure  they  would  re- 
move my  devils,  but  I  fear  they  would  offend  my 
angels."  When  I  went  to  the  analyst  for  a  kind  of 
preliminary  meeting,  he  said,  "I'll  be  able  to  fix 
you  so  that  you'll  write  much  more  music  than 
you  do  now."  I  said,  "Good  heavens!  I  already 
write  too  much,  it  seems  to  me."  That  promise  of 
his  put  me  off. 

And  then  in  the  nick  of  time,  Gita  Sarabhai 
came  from  India.  She  was  concerned  about  the 
influence  Western  music  was  having  on  tradi- 
tional Indian  music,  and  she'd  decided  to  study 
Western  music  for  six  months  with  several  teachers 
and  then  return  to  India  to  do  what  she  could  to 
preserve  the  Indian  traditions.  She  studied  con- 
temporary music  and  counterpoint  with  me.  She 
said,  "How  much  do  you  charge?"  I  said,  "It'll  be 
free  if  you'll  also  teach  me  about  Indian  music." 
We  were  almost  every  day  together.  At  the  end 

of  six  months,  just  before  she  flew  away,  she  gave 
me  the  Gospel  of  Sri  Ramakrishna.  It  took  me  a 
year  to  finish  reading  it. 

I  was  on  an  English  boat  going  from  Siracusa 
in  Sicily  to  Tunis  in  North  Africa.  I  had  taken  the 
cheapest  passage  and  it  was  a  voyage  of  two  nights 
and  one  day.  We  were  no  sooner  out  of  the  har- 
bor than  I  found  that  in  my  class  no  food  was 
served.  I  sent  a  note  to  the  captain  saying  I'd  like 
to  change  to  another  class.  He  sent  a  note  back 
saying  I  could  not  change  and,  further,  asking 
whether  I  had  been  vaccinated.  I  wrote  back  that 
I  had  not  been  vaccinated  and  that  I  didn't  intend 
to  be.  He  wrote  back  that  unless  I  was  vaccinated 
I  would  not  be  permitted  to  disembark  at  Tunis. 
We  had  meanwhile  gotten  into  a  terrific  storm. 
The  waves  were  higher  than  the  boat.  It  was  im- 
possible to  walk  on  the  deck.  The  correspondence 
between  the  captain  and  myself  continued  in 
deadlock.  In  my  last  note  to  him,  I  stated  my  firm 
intention  to  get  off  his  boat  at  the  earliest  oppor- 
tunity and  without  being  vaccinated.  He  then 
wrote  back  that  I  had  been  vaccinated,  and  to 
prove  it  he  sent  along  a  certificate  with  his 

David  Tudor  and  I  went  to  Hilversum  in 
Holland  to  make  a  recording  for  the  Dutch  radio. 
We  arrived  at  the  studio  early  and  there  was 
some  delay.  To  pass  the  time,  we  chatted  with 
the  engineer  who  was  to  work  with  us.  He  asked 
me  what  kind  of  music  he  was  about  to  record. 
Since  he  was  a  Dutchman  I  said,  "It  may  remind 
you  of  the  work  of  Mondrian." 

When  the  session  was  finished  and  the  three 
of  us  were  leaving  the  studio,  I  asked  the  engineer 
what  he  thought  of  the  music  we  had  played.  He 
said,  "It  reminded  me  of  the  work  of  Mondrian." 


Although  it  had  been  prepared  some  years  earlier,  this  lecture  was  not  printed 
until  1959,  when  it  appeared  in  It  Is,  edited  by  Philip  Pavia,  with  the  following 

In  the  general  moving  around  and  talking  that  followed  my  Lecture  on 
Something  (ten  years  ago  at  the  Club),  somebody  asked  Morton  Feldman 
whether  he  agreed  with  what  I  had  said  about  him.  He  replied,  "That's 
not  me;  that's  John."  When  Pavia  recently  asked  me  for  a  text  on  the 
occasion  of  Columbia's  issuing  a  record  devoted  to  Feldman's  music,  I 
said,  "I  already  have  one.  Why  don't  you  print  it?" 

[In  this  connection,  it  may  be  noted  that  the  empty  spaces,  omitted  in  the  It  Is 
printing  but  to  be  encountered  below,  are  representative  of  silences  that  were 
a  part  of  the  LectureJ 


To  bring  things  up  to  date,  let  me  say  that  I  am  as  ever  changing,  while 
Feldman's  music  seems  more  to  continue  than  to  change.  There  never  was 
and  there  is  not  now  in  my  mind  any  doubt  about  its  beauty.  It  is,  in  fact, 
sometimes  too  beautiful.  The  flavor  of  that  beauty,  which  formerly  seemed 
to  me  to  be  heroic,  strikes  me  now  as  erotic  (an  equal,  by  no  means  a 
lesser,  flavor).  This  impression  is  due,  I  believe,  to  Feldman's  tendency 
towards  tenderness,  a  tenderness  only  briefly,  and  sometimes  not  at  all, 
interrupted  by  violence.  On  paper,  of  course,  the  graph  pieces  are  as 
heroic  as  ever;  but  in  rehearsal  Feldman  does  not  permit  the  freedoms  he 
writes  to  become  the  occasion  for  license.  He  insists  upon  an  action 
within  the  gamut  of  love,  and  this  produces  (to  mention  only  the  extreme 
effects)  a  sensuousness  of  sound  or  an  atmosphere  of  devotion.  As  ever,  I 
prefer  concerts  to  records  of  instrumental  music.  Let  no  one  imagine  that 
in  owning  a  recording  he  has  the  music.  The  very  practice  of  music,  and 
Feldman's  eminently,  is  a  celebration  that  we  own  nothing. 


This  is  a  talk  about         something  and  naturally  also  a  talk  about 

nothing.  About  how  something     and  nothing  are  not         opposed  to  each  other 

but  need  each  other  to  keep  on  going  .  It  is  difficult  to 

talk  when  you  have         something  to  say  precisely  because  of         the  words  which 

keep  making  us  say  in  the  way  which  the  words  need  to 

stick  to  and  not  in  the  Way  which     we  need  for  living.  For  instance: 

someone  said,  "Art  should  come  from     within;  then  it  is  profound." 

But  it  seems  to  me  Art  goes  within,        and  I  don't  see  the  need  for  "should"  or 

'then"  or  "it"  or 

'pro-found."  When  Art  comes  from  within     ,  which  is 

what  it  was  for  so  long  doing,  it  be— came  a  thing         which  seemed  to  elevate  the 

man  who  made  it         a-bove  those  who  ob-served  it  or  heard  it         and  the  artist  was 

considered  a  genius  or  given  a  rating:  First,  Second,  No  Good  ,  until 

finally  riding  in  a  bus  or  subway:  so  proudly  he  signs  his 

work  like  a  manufacturer 

But  since  everything's  changing,  art's  now  going 
in  and  it  is  of  the  utmost  importance  not    to  make  a  thing        but  rather  to  make 

nothing.  And  how  is  this  done?  Done  by  making  something 

which  then  goes  in  and  reminds  us  of       nothing.  It  is  im-portant  that  this 

something  be  just  something,  finitely  something;  then  very 

simply  it  goes  in  and  becomes  infinitely  nothing 

It  seems  we  are  living.  Understanding  of  what   is  nourishing 

changing  .  Of  course,  it  is  always  changing, 

now  it  is  very  clearly  changing,  so  that  the  people  either  agree  or  they  don't 

and  the 

differences  of 


two  sides. 

other  side  it  is  more 
it's  all  the  same,  — 
starting  finitely 



within  broad  limits 
the  responsibility  of 

o-pinion  are  clearer  .  Just  a  year  or  so  a- 

everything  seemed  to  be  an  individual  matter.      But  now  there  are 

On  one  side  it  is  that  individual  matter  going  on,         and  on  the 

not  an  individual  but      everyone  which  is  not  to  say 

on  the  contrary  there  are  more  differences.     That  is: 

everything's  different  but  in  going  in  it  all  becomes  the  same 


when  he  called 

the  first  ones 
the  composer 

Which  is  what    Morton  Feldman 
the  music  he's  now  writing 

Feldman  speaks  of 
that  come  along. 

had  in 

from  making 
To  accept 

no  sounds,         and  takes 
He  has  changed 
to  accepting 

whatever  comes 
of  the  consequences 

LECTURE    ON    SOMETHING  /  1  29 

such  an  individual 
more  impressively, 
what,  precisely, 
have  to  do 
separate  from  it. 

is  to  be  unafraid  or 

to  be  full  of  that  love  which 

comes  from  a  sense  of  at-one-ness        with  whatever 

This  goes  to  explain         what  Feldman  means 
when  he  says  that  he  is  associated  with  all  of  the  sounds, 
and  so  can  foresee  what  will  happen 

even  though  he  has  not  written  the  particular 

notes  down  as  other  composers  do 

When  a  com-poser  feels  a  responsibility  to  make,  rather 
than  accept,  he  e-liminates  from  the  area  of  possibility 

all  those  events  that  do  not  suggest  the  at  that  point  in 
time  vogue  of  profund-ity.  For  he  takes  himself  seriously, 
wishes  to  be  considered  great,  and  he  thereby  diminishes 

his  love  and  in-creases  his  fear  and  concern  about 

what  people  will  think 

There  are  many  serious  problems  confronting 

He  must  do  it  better, 
more  beautifully,  etc.  than  anybody  else  .  And 

does  this,  this  beautiful  profound  object,     this  masterpiece, 

with  Life?  It  has  this  to  do  with  Life  :  that  it  is 

Now  we  see  it  and  now  we  don't.  When  we  see  it 

we  feel  better,  and  when  we  are  away  from  it,  we  don't  feel  so  good 



when  traditions  exist 

are  made  pleasing 


Life  seems  shabby  and    chaotic,  disordered, 
Let  me  read  a  passage     from  the  I-Ching 
"In  human  affairs  aesthetic  form 

that  strong  and  abiding 
by  a  lucid  beauty, 

ex-isting  in  the  heavens 

ugly  in 

which  discusses  this 

comes  into  being 
like  mountains 
By  contemplating  the 
we  come  to  understand 

time  and  its  changing  demands  .  Through  contemplation  of  the 

forms  existing  in  human  society        it  be— comes  possible  to  shape  the  world 

."  And  the  footnote  goes  on:  "Tranquil  beauty:  clarity  within, 

quiet  without  .  This  is  the  tran-quillity  of  pure 

contemplation.      When  desire  is  silenced  and  the  will  comes  to  rest 

,  the  world  as  i-dea  becomes  manifest      .  In  this  aspect  the  world  is  beautiful 

and  re-moved  from  the  struggle  for  existence.  This  is  the  world  of 

Art.  However,  contemplation  alone        will  not  put  the 

1  30/SILENCE 

will  to  rest  abso-lutely.       It  will  a-waken  again  and  then 

all  the  beauty  of  form  will  appear  to  have  been  only  a  brief 

moment  of  exaltation.  Hence  this  is  still  not  the  true  way  of 

redemption.  The  fire  whose  light  illuminates  the        mountain 

and  makes  it  pleasing,  does  not  shine  far.  In  the  same  way 

beautiful  form  suffices  to  brighten  and  throw  light  upon  mat-ters  of  lesser  moment 

But  important  questions  cannot  be  decided 

in  this  way  .  They  require  greater  earnestness 

."  Perhaps 


responsibility  of  the 
for  a  moment 

just  beautiful  but  also 

not  just  good,  but  also  evil  ,  not  just  true,  but  also  an  il- 

I  remember  now      that  Feldman  spoke  of  shadows, 

the  sounds  were  not  sounds  but  shadows.        They  are  obviously 

that's  why  they  are  shadows.    Every  something  is  an    echo  of  nothing, 
very  much  like  a  piece  by  Morty  Feldman. 

may  ob-ject  that  the  sounds         that  happened  were         not  interesting. 
Next  time  he  hears  the  piece,  it  will  be  different, 

this  will  make 

in  his  book 


let's  consider 

what  is  that 

important  question  is 



He  said  that 


Life  goes  on 


is  to  hide  beauty." 
what  are  the 
greater  earnestness 
what  is  it  that  is  not 

They  require 

a  statement  made  by 

"The  highest 

important  questions 
that  is  required 

Let  him. 
And  life 

not  for  Feldman. 



and  so  on; 


we  live 


with  Life. 

on  saying  that  they 

less  interesting,  perhaps         suddenly  exciting  .  Perhaps 

A  disaster  for  whom        ?  For  him, 

the  same:  always  different, 

sometimes  boring,  sometimes  gently  pleasing 

what  other  important      questions  are  there?         Than  that 

how  to  do  it  in  a  state  of  accord 

Some  people  may  now     be  indignant  and  insist 

control  Life.  They  are  the  same  ones  who  insist  on  controlling  and  judging  art 

Why  judge?  "Judge  not  lest  ye  be  judged." 

Or  we  can  say:  Judge  and  re-gardless  of  the  consequences 

What  is 

meant  by  Judge  and  re-gardless  of  the       conse-quences?  Simply  this: 

Judge  in  a  state  of  disinterest  as  to  the  effects  of  the  judging  .  A  modern 

Cuban  composer,  Caturla,  earned  his  living  as  a  judge.  A 

LECTURE    ON    S  OM  ET  H  I  N  G  /  1  3  1 

man  he  sentenced 
murdered  Caturla. 
was  Caturla 
guilt,  concern, 
musical  term 
last  week 

it  was  argued  from  a 
This  is  again 
simply  means 

to  life  imprisonment        es-caped  from  prison 

In  that  penultimate         now-moment        before  being  killed 


in  hell  or  in  heaven?  Make  judgments 

Otherwise  no  life:  Hamlet, 

responsibility.        The  i-dea,  consequences, 
continuity         and  that  produced 
for  Feldman  spoke  of  no-continuity, 

rational  point  of  view      that  no  matter  what 
a  matter  of  disinterest 
accepting  that 

but  accept  the 


a  discussion 


there  is  continuity, 
and  acceptance.  No-continuity 

continuity  that  happens. 


making  that  particular 



This  is,  of  course, 



for  we  have  found          that  by 


we  may  have  an  enormous 

bank  account 

one  needs  critics, 


Dnes,           otherwise  one  gets 


lse  with      all  that  fol-de-rol 


no  one 

Continuity      means  the  opposite: 

excludes  all  others. 

not  any  longer  nourishing 

we  grow  thin  inside  even  though 

outside.  For  somethings 

judgments,  authoritative  ones, 

but  for  nothing  one  can  dis 

loses  nothing  be-cause  nothing 

When  nothing  is  se-curely  possessed 

How  many  are  there?      They  roll  up  at        your  feet.     How  many  doors  and  windows  are  there 

in  it?  There  is  no  end  to  the  number  of  somethings  and  all  of  them  (without 

exception)  are  ac-ceptable.  If  one  gets  suddenly        proud  and  says 

for  one  reason  or  a-nother:  I  cannot  accept  this;  then  the       whole  freedom 

to  accept  any  of  the         others  vanishes.  But        if  one  maintains  secure  possession 

of  nothing  (what  has  been  called  poverty  of  spirit),  then  there  is  no  limit 

is  se-curely  possessed 

one  is  free  to  accept 

any  of  the  somethings. 

to  what  one  may 
possession  of  things. 
This  is  what 

freely  enjoy. 
There  is  only 
is  meant  when  one  says 
No  sounds. 

In  this  free 

No  harmony. 
No  rhythm. 

No  counterpoint. 

there  is  not  one  of  the  somethings 

When  this  is  meant 

and  paradoxically  free  to  pick  and  choose  again 

moment  Feldman  does,  will  or  may.  New  picking 

en-joyment  there  is  no 

What  is  possessed  is  nothing. 
No  melody. 
That  is  to  say 
that  is  not  acceptable, 
one  is  in  accord  with  life, 

as  at  any 

choosing  is  just  like  the  old  picking  and  choosing  except  that  one 
takes  as  just  another       one  of  the  somethings      any  consequence 


1  32/SILENCE 

having  picked  and  chosen.  When  in  the  state  of 

nothing,  one  diminished  the  something  in  one:      Character. 
At  any  moment  one     is  free  to  take  on  character  again,  but 

then  it  is  without  fear,  full  of  life  and  love. 

For  one's  been  at  the        point  of  the  nourishment  that  sustains  in  no 
matter  what  one  of  the  something  situations. 

High,  middle,  low;  enter  any  time  within  the  duration  notated; 

this  particular  timbre.  These  are  the  somethings  Feldman  has 

chosen.  They  give  him  and  his  art  character, 

useless  in  this  situation  for  anyone  to  say 

is  good  or  not  good.  Because  we  are  in  the  direct 

it  is.  If  you  don't  like  it  you  may  choose  to 

But  if  you  avoid  it  that's  a  pity,  because  it  re- 

very  closely,         and  life  and  it  are  essentially  a  cause  for  joy. 

People  say,  sometimes     ,  timidly:  I  know  nothing  about  music        but  I  know  what  I 

like.  But  the  important  questions  are  answered  by  not  liking  only  but  disliking 

and  accepting  equally      what  one  likes  and  dislikes.     Otherwise         there  is  no  access  to 

the  dark  night  of  the       soul.     At  the  present  time,  a  twelve-tone  time,  it  is  not  popular 
to  allow  the  more  common  garden  variety  of  tonal  relations 

These  latter         are  dis-criminated  against.  Feldman  allows  them      to  be  if 

they  happen  to  come  along.    And  to  ex-plain  again,  the  only  reason 

for  his  being  able  to         allow  them  is  by  his  acting  on  the         as-sumption  that 

no    tonal    relations    ex-ist,  meaning 

are  acceptable.  Let  us  say  in  life:  No  earthquakes 

What  happens  then  ? 

It  is  quite 
Feldman's  work 
avoid  it. 
sembles  life 

all  tonal  relations 
are  permissible. 

All  the  somethings  in  the 
world  begin  to  sense  their  at-one-ness  when  something  happens  that  reminds  them  of 


way  the  music 

so  that  its 

all  of  the  things 

And  in  this 
of  Morton  Feldman     may  actively  remind  us  of  nothing 

no-continuity  will  let  us  allow  our  lives  with 

that  happen  in  them  to  be  simply  what  they        are  and  not  separate 

LECTURE    ON    S  O  M  E  T  H  I  N  G  /  1  3  3 

from  one  another.  It  is  perfectly  clear  that  walking  a-long  the  river  is 

one  thing  and  writing  music  is  another  and  being  interrupted 

while  writing  music  is  still  an-other  and  a  backache       too.  They 

all  go  together  and  it's  a  continuity  that  is  not  a  continuity  that  is  being 

clung  to  or  in-sisted  upon.  The  moment  it  be—comes  a 

special  continuity  of        I  am  composing        and  nothing  else  should  happen,  then  the 

rest  of  life  is  nothing  but  a  series         of  interruptions,  pleasant  or 

catastrophic  as  the  case  may  be.  The  truth,  however,        is  that  it  is 

more  like  Feldman's  music  —         anything  may  happen     and  it  all  does 

go  together.  There  is  no  rest  of  life.  Life  is  one.  Without  be- 

ginning, without  middle,  without  ending  .  The  concept:   beginning 

middle  and  meaning        comes  from  a  sense  of     self  which  separates  itself 

from  what  it  considers  to  be  the  rest  of  life.  But  this  attitude  is  untenable  unless 

one  insists  on  stopping  life  and  bringing  it  to  an  end  .  That 

thought  is  in  itself  an  attempt  to  stop  life,  for  life  goes  on,  indifferent  to  the 

deaths  that  are  part  of  its  no  beginning,  no  middle,      no  meaning 

How  much  better  to        simply  get  behind  and  push! 
To  do  the  opposite  is  clownish,  that  is:  clinging  or  trying  to  force 

life  into  one's  own         i-dea  of  it,  of  what  it  should  be,  is  on-ly  absurd.  The  ab- 

surdity comes  from  the  artificiality  of  it,  of  not  living,  but  of 

having  to  have         first  an  idea  about  how  one    should  do  it  and  then       stumblingly 
trying.  Falling  down  on  some  one  of  the  various  banana  peels  is  what  we 

have  been  calling  tragedy.  Ideas  of  separateness  artificially  elevated.  The  mythological 
and  Oriental  view        of  the  hero  is  the  one  who  accepts  life 

And  so  if  one  should        object  to  calling  Feldman  a  composer, 

one  could  call  him         a  hero.  But  we  are  all  heroes,  if  we  accept  what 

comes,  our  inner  cheerfulness  undis-turbed.  If  we  ac-cept  what  comes, 

that  (again)  is  what         Feldman  means  by  Intersection.  Anyone  may  cross  it. 

Here  Comes  Everybody  .  The  light  has  turned.       Walk  on.  The 

water  is  fine.  Jump  in.  Some  will  refuse,  for  they  see  that  the 

water  is  thick  with  monsters  ready  to  devour  them.     What  they  have  in 

mind  is  self-preservation.  And  what  is  that  self-preservation  but 

only  a  preservation  from  life?  Whereas  life  without  death  is  no  longer  life  but 

only  self-preservation.  (This  by  the  way  is  another  reason  why  recordings  are  not  music 
.)      Which  do  we  prefer  is,  practically  speaking,  an  irrelevant  question, 

since  life  by  exercising  death  settles  the  matter  conclusively  for 

1  34/SILENCE 

something  but  without  conclusion  for  nothing.  It  is  nothing  that 

goes  on  and  on  without  beginning  middle  or  meaning  or  ending.  Something  is 

always  starting         and  stopping,  rising         and  falling.  The  nothing  that 

goes  on  is  what  Feldman  speaks  of  when  he  speaks  of  being  sub- 

merged in  silence.  The  ac-ceptance  of  death 

source  of  all  life.  So  that  listening  to  this  music 

takes  as  a  spring-board  the  first  sound  that  comes  along  ; 

something  springs  us       into  nothing  and  out  of  that  nothing      a-rises 

next  something;  etc.  like  an  al-ternating  current, 

the  silence  that  ex-tinguishes  it.  And  no  silence  exists 

with  sound.  Someone  said 

to  the  performance  of  Feldman's  music 

"That  kind  of  music  if  you  call  it  music 

in  a  public  hall,  because  many  people         do  not  understand  it 

and  they  start  talking  or  tittering  and  the  result  is  that  you  can't 

hear  the  music  be—cause  of  all  these  extraneous  sounds."  Going  on,  that 

someone  said,  "The  music  could  be  played  and  possibly  appreciated    , 

in  a  home  where,      not  having  paid  to  be  entertained,   those  listening 

recent  recital: 

is  the 
the  first 
Not  one  sound  fears 
that  is  not  pregnant 
the  other  day,  in 

at  Merce  Cunningham's 
should  not  be 

might  listen 

out  of  decorum 

more  comfortable  and 

sire  for  special 

or  having  it 

in  a  home  it  is 
to  hear  it 
de-scribes  the  de- 
an ivory  tower, 
of  keeping  the 
one  day  get  out 
and  talking)  become 

and  not  have  the  impulse  to  titter 

squelch  it  and  be-sides 

quiet:  there  would  be  a  better  chance 

Now  what  that  someone  said 

cut-off-from-life  conditions: 

But  no  ivory  tower  ex-ists,  for  there  is  no  possibility 

Prince  forever  within       the  Palace  Walls.  He  will,  willy  nilly, 

and  seeing  that  there       are  sickness  and  death  (tittering 

Buddha.  Be-sides  at  my  house,  you  hear  the  boat  sounds, 

traffic  sounds,  the  neighbors  quarreling,  the  children  playing  and  screaming  in  the 

hall,  and  on  top  of  it  all  the  pedals  of  the  piano  squeak 
There  is  no  getting  a-way  from  life 

going  back  to  what  that  someone  said:  "That  kind  of  music, 

Actually  what  difference?  Words  are  only  noises 

makes  little  difference      .  Essentially 

:  do  you  five,  or  do  you  in-sist 


Now,  going  on  by 

if  you  call  it  music." 
.    Which  noise 
the  question  is 
on  words? 

If  before  you  live 

you  go  through  a  word   then  there  is  an  indirection, 

we  need  not  go  around  the  barn  , 


LECTURE    ON    SOMET  H  I  N  G  /  1  3  5 

may  go  directly  in 
"Paid  to  be  entertained 


And  then  to  go  on  : 

This  brings  us  again 
If  at  any  moment      we  approach  that 

with  a  pre— conceived  idea  of  what  that  moment  will  provide,  and  if, 


furthermore,  we        pre-sume  that  having  paid  for  it  makes  us  safe  about  it,  we  simply 

start  off  on  the  wrong  foot.  Let's  say  for  ten  years  everything 
as  we  imagined  it  would  and  ought, 

the  table  turns  and  it  doesn't  work  out 

We  buy  something      to  keep 
stolen.  We  bake  a  cake  and  it  turns  out 

turns  out 
Sooner  or  later 
as  we  wish  it  would 

and  it  is 

sugar  was  not  sugar 
start  to  work 
what  is 

Heroes  are  being 
the  accepting 
will  happen 
why  it  is 

but  salt 

than  the  telephone  rings  . 
entertainment?  And  who 

entertained  and  their       nature 
of  what  comes        without  preconceived  ideas  of 
and  re-gardless  of  the  consequences, 

so  difficult  to  listen  to  music 

that  the 

I  no  sooner 

But  to  continue: 

is  being  entertained? 
is  that  of  nature: 


This  is,  by  the  way, 

we  are  familiar 

with;  memory  has  acted  to  keep  us  a-ware 

next,  and  so  it  is  almost  im-possible 

presence  of  a  well-known 

it  happens,  and  when  it  does, 

Going  on  about 
to  appreciate 
to  hear  it  without 
at  the  root  of  all 
separate  from  the 

of  what  will  happen 
to  remain  a-live 
masterpiece.  Now  and  then 

it  par-takes  of  the  miraculous 

in  the 

of  the  desire 

rather  that  that, 

sounds  — 

this  work  is  a  thing 

with  Feldman's  music 

of  art  which  is  a  thing 


at  the  root 
to  call  it  this 

what  someone  said: 
a  piece  of  music, 
the  unavoidable 

this  is  the  idea  that 

rest  of  life,  which  is  not  the  case 

We  are  in  the  presence  not  of  a  work 

but  of  an  action  which  is  implicitly 

Nothing  has  been  said 

Nothing  is  communicated.  And  there  is  no  use 

intellectual  references.     No  thing  in  life  requires  a  symbol 

what  it  is:  a  visible  manifestation 

All  somethings  equally  par-take  of  that 

But  to  go  on  again  about  someone  said: 

And  I  forgot  to  mention  it  before.  He  said, 

all  those  silences  ?"  How  do  I  know 

of  symbols 

since  it  is  clearly 
of  an  invisible  nothing. 

life-giving  nothing. 
"What  about 




LECTURE    ON    SO  MET  H  I  N  G  /  1  3  7 

We  never  know  when                         but  being  cheerful  helps         .                         Are  there 

other  ways  than  Feldman's?  Naturally;    something-speaking         there  are                       an 

infinite  number  of  ways.                       How  many  doors  and  windows? 

1  38/SILENCE 

I  forgot  to  say 
this  isn't  a  talk  about  Morton  Feldman's  music.  It's  a  talk  within  a  rhythmic  structure 
and  that  is  why  every  now  and  then  it  is  possible  to  have  absolutely 

nothing;  the  possibility  of  nothing  — 

middles  meanings  and     endings? 
beginnings  middles  and  meanings 

And  what  is  the 

And  what  is  the 

be-ginning  of  no 
ending  of  no 

If  you  let  it 
Each  something 
When  we 
it  doesn't  drop. 

it  supports  itself.  You  don't  have  to 

is  a  celebration  of  the  nothing  that  supports  it. 

re-move  the  world  from  our  shoulders  we  notice 

Where  is  the  responsibility  ? 

Responsibility  is  to  oneself; 

irresponsibility  to  oneself  which  is  to  say 

responsibility  to  others  and  things  comes  a-long 

and  the  highest  form  of  it  is 

the  calm  acceptance  of  whatever 

If  one  adopts  this  attitude  art 

station  in  which  one  tries  out  living;  one 


one  is  living, 
the  art; 

is  a  sort  of  experimental 
doesn't  stop 

when  one  is  occupied  making  the  art, 

that  is,  for  example,         now  reading 
and  nothing,  one  doesn't  stop 

should  I  be  writing 

and  when 

a  lecture  on 

being  occupied  making 


Of  course,  I  am  —  and    going  to  the  movies 

about  nothing        or  eating  an  apple:         concerto  piano, 

and  no  blame.  The  continuity  that  is  no  continuity 

for-ever;  and  there  is  no  problem 

With  this  exception:         there 
those  things  that  come  from 

and  full  of  pride  and  self-glory 

as  separate  from  and  finer 

on  earth  .  But,  actually, 

a-bout  accepting 
is  great  difficulty 
a  profound 

than  anything 

where  is  the 

piano  concerto? 

or  explaining 

No  "should" 

is  going  on 


in  accepting 

inner  feeling 



difficulty?  It  is  the  simplest  thing  in  the       world  to  directly  see:         this 

is  an  orange;  that  is  a  frog;  this  is  a  man  being  proud; 

is  a  man  thinking  another  man  is  proud;     etc 

It  all  goes  to-gether  and  doesn't  require  that  we 

try  to  improve  it  or  feel  our  inferiority  or  superiority  to  it.  Progress  is  out  of  the 
question.  But  inactivity  is  not  what  happens.  There  is  always  activity 
free  from  com-pulsion,  done  from  disinterest, 

free  to  stop  brooding  and  to  observe  the  effects  of  our  actions, 
proud,  that  pride  keeps  us  from  ob-serving 

And  what  do  we  observe:  the  effects  of  our 

others  or  on  ourselves?  On  ourselves; 

on  us  are  con-ducive  to  less  separateness, 

more  love,  we  may  walk  on  then      regardless 


And  we  are 
(When  we  are 
very  clearly.) 
for  if  the  effects 
less  fear, 
of  the  others. 

Out  of  that  lack  of  regard  for  the  others 
competitive,  for  as  in       those  silences  that 
are  confident  of  each  other's 

nervousness,  only  a  sense 

we  will  not  feel 
of  at-one-ness 

the  need 
when  two  people 
there  is  no 

but  it  is 


to  be 


LECTURE    ON    S  ONIETH  I  N  G  /  1  4  1 

1  42/SILENCE 

When             going  from  nothing               towards  something, 

we  have  all 

the  European                    history  of  music               and  art 

we  remember 

and  there  we  can  see        that  this                         is  well  done 

but  the  other  is  not. 

So-and-so  contributed    this  and  that             and  criteria. 

But  now  we  are 

going  from                         something           towards  nothing, 

and  there  is  no  way 

of  saying  success          or  failure                 since  all  things 

have  equally 


Buddha  nature.                 Being  ignorant  of  that    fact 

is  the  only  obstacle 


enlightenment.         And  being  enlightened             is  not 

some  spooky 


earthly  condition.             Before                studying  Zen             men  are  men  and  mountains 

are  mountains.                  While  studying  Zen,        things  get  confused.         After 

studying  Zen  men  are      men  and  mountains  are  mountains. 


difference                          except  that  one  is  no       longer 



and  then                            I  have  found          in  dis-cussing 

these  ideas 


some  people  say,            "That  is                               all  very  well, 

but                       it 


work  for  us,                       for  it's  Oriental."             (Actually 

there  is  no  longer 


question                       of  Orient                        and  Occident. 

All  of  that  is  rapidly 

disappearing;                as  Bucky  Fuller                is  fond  of 

pointing  out: 

the  movement                   with  the  wind        of  the  Orient 

and  the  movement 

against              the  wind  of  the  Occident                meet 

in  America 


produce                          a  movement                        upwards 

into  the  air  — 


space,  the  silence,  the  nothing  that  supports  us      .) 

And  then 

again                  if  any  of  you               are  troubled  still 

about  Orient 


Occident,                           you  can  read  Eckhart,     or  Blythe's 

book                  on 

Zen  in 

English  literature,            or  Joe  Campbell's            books  on  mythology        and  philosophy, 

or  the  books                by  Alan  Watts.   And  there  are  naturally 

many  others. 

There  are  books  to          read,                   pictures  to  look  at, 



so  nowadays, 

doing,  say, 

quite  some  time.' 

most  musicians 






to  read  (cummings  for  instance),  sculpture,  architecture,  even 

theatre  and  dance,  and  now  some  music  too. 

Mostly,  right  now,  there  is  painting  and       sculpture,  and  just  as 

formerly  when  starting  to  be  ab-stract,  artists  referred 

musical  practices         to  show  that  what  they  were  doing  was  valid, 

musicians,  to  explain       what  they 

"See,  the  painters  and       sculptors  have  been  doing  it  for 

But  we  are  still  at  the  point  where 

are  clinging  to  the  complicated  torn-up  competitive  remnants         of 

and,  furthermore,  a  tradition  that  was  always  a 

of  breaking  with  tradition,  and     further-more,  a  tradition  that 

its  ideas  of  counterpoint       and  harmony 
with  its  own  but  with      all  other  traditions 

was  out  of  step  not  only 

I  had  thought 

of  leaving                this  last  section  silent, 

but  then  it  turns        out 

I  have  something              to  say  . 

I  am  after  all  talking 

about                   Morton  Feldman's  music              and  whether         that  is  right  or  wrong  is 

not  to  the  point. 

I  am  doing  it.                   Going  on  doing  it. 

And  that  is  the  way. 

This  morning 

I  thought                    of  an  image 

that  might  make  clear          to 

some  of  you 

the  natural  usefulness  of       Feldman's  music. 

It  was  this: 

do  you  remember, 

in  myth,                          the  hero's  encounter 

with                              the 


monster?                            The  way 

the  sounds                   be- 

tween                  two 

>  per-formances                          shift 

their  somethingness 

suggests  this. 

Now          what  does  the  hero  do? 

(You           and                I 

are  the  heroes 

and  incidentally                       Morty  too.) 

He  doesn't 

get  frightened 

but  simply                         accepts 

what  the  sound-shift- 

ing  performer  happens     to  do.                                 Eventually  the  whole      mirage  disappears. 

And  the  prize 

or  sought-for                         something 

(that  is  nothing) 

is  obtained. 

And  that  something-      generating  nothing 

that  is  obtained              is 

that  each 

something                      is  really  what  it  is 

,                               and  so 

what  happens? 

Live  happily                     ever  after. 

And                          do  we 


a  celebration?                       We  cannot 

a-void  it 


each  thing  in  life  is          continually 

just  that 


Now                      what  if  I'm  wrong? 

Shall  I  telephone 

Joe  Campbell 

and  ask  him                       the  meaning 

of  shape-shifters 


(I  can't  do  it  for             a  nickel  any  more.) 

He  would  know  the 


However,  that  is              not  the  point. 

The  point  is 



other  life-and-death 

Out  of  Meister 

I  take  the  following 

first  to  settle  how 

This  is  a  situation  which  is  no  more  and  no  less  serious  than  any 
situation.  What  is  needed  is  irresponsibility. 

Eckhart's  sermon,  God  made  the  poor  for  the  rich, 

:  "If,  going  to  some  place,  we 

to  put  the  front  foot  down,  we  should      never  get  there, 

had  to  plan  out  every      brush-mark  before  he      made 

your  principles  and  keep 

that  is  the  way." 

If  the  painter 

first  he  would  not  paint  at  all.  Follow 

straight  on;  you  will  come  to  the        right  place, 

The  other  day  I  had  a  letter 

He  said,  "We  try  not  to  think         too  much 

from  day  to  day,  pushing  our  in-vestigations 



from  Pierre  Boulez. 
of  the  war;  we  live 

as  far  as  possible 

Coming  back 
of  a 

and  nothing 
keep  on  going, 
any  something) 
still  invades 

to  Eckhart, 
brilliant  conclusion, 
and  how 
as  Eckhart 
"has  no  escape 
"flee  she  up 
her,  energizing 

for  the  sake 
a  tonic 
to  this  talk 
they  need 

says,  "Earth" 
from  heaven:" 
or  flee  she  down 
her,  fructifying 

by  the  way 
and  dominant 
about  something 
each  other 
(that  is 
(that  is 


for  her  weal  or 

for  her  woe." 

np    1?    up 

LECTURE    ON    SOMET  H  I  N  G  /  1  45 

Before  writing  this  piece,  I  composed  34'  46.776"  for  Two  Pianists.  These 
piano  parts  shared  the  same  numerical  rhythmic  structure  but  were  not  fixed 
together  by  means  of  a  score.  They  were  mobile  with  respect  to  one  another. 
In  each  case  the  structural  units  became  different  in  actual  time-length  by  use 
of  a  factor  obtained  by  chance  operations.  Having  been  asked  to  speak  at  the 
Composers'  Concourse  in  London  (October  1954),  I  decided  to  prepare  for  that 
occasion  a  lecture  using  the  same  structure,  thus  permitting  the  playing  of 
music  during  the  delivery  of  the  speech.  The  second  pianist's  part  had  turned 
out  to  be  31'  57.9864".  When  I  applied  the  chance  factor  to  the  numerical 
rhythmic  structure  in  the  case  of  the  speech,  I  obtained  39'  16.95".  However, 
when  the  text  was  completed,  I  found  I  was  unable  to  perform  it  within  that 
time-length.  I  needed  more  time.  I  made  experiments,  reading  long  lines  as 
rapidly  as  I  could.  The  result  was  two  seconds  for  each  line,  45'  for  the  entire 
piece.  Not  all  the  text  can  be  read  comfortably  even  at  this  speed,  but 
one  can  still  try. 

45'    FOR   A   SPEAKER 

The  piano  parts  had  included  noises  and  whistles  in  addition  to  piano  and 
prepared  piano  tones.  For  the  speaker,  I  made  a  list  of  noises  and  gestures.  By 
means  of  chance  operations,  determining  which  noise  or  gesture  and  when 
it  was  to  be  made,  I  added  these  to  the  text. 

Similarly,  the  relative  loudness  of  delivery  was  varied:  soft,  normal,  loud. 
(These  volumes  are  indicated  in  the  text  below  by  typographical  means:  italics 
for  soft,  roman  for  normal,  and  boldface  italics  for  loud.) 

The  text  itself  was  composed  using  previously  written  lectures  together 
with  new  material.  Answers  to  the  following  questions  were  all  obtained  by 
chance  operations: 

1 .  Is  there  speech  or  silence? 

2.  And  for  how  long? 

3.  If  speech,  is  it  old  material  or  new? 

4.  If  old,  from  which  lecture  and  what  part  of  it? 

5.  If  new,  on  which  of  the  following  32  subjects? 

Structure  (emptiness)  (in  general  no  structure) 


Time  (and  rhythm) 

Sound  (and  noises) 



Technique  in  general  (no  technique) 

Other  arts  (shadows,  etc.:  incidental  sounds) 

1  46/SILENCE 

Relationship  (synchronicittf) 
Music  (work  of  art) 
Magnetic  tape 
Prepared  piano 

Theatre  (music  work  of  life) 
Listening  as  ignorance 

Square  root  and  flexibility 
Asymmetry  of  probability 
Imperfections  technique 
Coins  technique 
Multiple  loud-speakers 

Psychology  (expressivity)  (inspiration) 
Vertical  (forced)  relations 
Horizontal  (forced)  relations 
Mobility  of  parts  (this  work) 
The  string  pieces 
The  carillon  music 
Activity  of  performance 
6.    Is  the  material,  new  or  old,  to  be  measured  in  terms  of  words  or  syllables? 
And  how  many? 

The  piece  for  two  pianists  had  been  commissioned  for  performance  at 
Donaueschingen  in  September  1954.  I  finished  it  just  in  time  to  catch  the  boat 
for  Rotterdam  with  David  Tudor.  My  plan  was  to  write  the  speech  while 
crossing  the  Atlantic.  The  boat,  however,  met  with  a  collision  twelve  hours 
after  leaving  Manhattan.  We  slowly  returned  to  New  York.  With  the  help  of 
other  passengers  having  obligations  abroad,  we  organized  the  flight  of  all  the 
ship's  passengers  to  Amsterdam.  45'  for  a  Speaker  was  written  on  trains  and  in 
hotels  and  restaurants  during  the  course  of  a  European  tour.  Returning  to 
America  later  that  fall,  I  composed  26' 1.1499"  for  a  String  Player  (incorporating 
in  it  short  pieces  written  two  years  before)  and,  later,  27' 10.554"  for  a 
Percussionist.  All  these  compositions,  including  the  speech,  may  be  performed 
alone  or  together  in  any  combination. 

45'    FOR    A    SPEAKER/1  47 


"Lo  and  behold  the  horse  turns  into 

a  prince,  who,  except  for  the 

acquiescence  of  the  hero 

would  have  had  to  remain  a 

miserable  shaggy  nag." 
10"    I  have  noticed  something  else  about 

Christian  Wolffs  music.  All  you  can 

do        is 

suddenly  listen 

in  the  same  way 

that,  when  you  catch  cold, 
20"    all  you  can  do  is 



Unfortunately        — 

European  harmony. 



50"  Where  it  is: 

within  us 

like  an  empty  glass 
into  which 


l'OO"    at  any  moment 


may  be  poured 

just  something        finitely  something 

or  even 

to  be  able  to  drink 
10"    a  glass  of  water. 

Unless  some  other  idea 

crops  up  about  it, 

that  is  all  I  have  to  say  about  structure. 

My  present 

20"    of  composing  s 

involved  with  the 


of  imperfections  in  the  paper 

on  which  I  happen 

to  be 
30"    writing. 

( Snore ) 
About  the 

prepared  piano:  each  prepared  piano  is 

prepared  differently.  Objects  are  placed 

between  the  strings  and  the  piano  sound, 

to  all  of  these  various  characteristics,  he 
40"    is  transformed  with  respect  to  all  of  its  characteristics. 

Music  is  an  oversimplification  of  the  situation 

we  actually  are  in.  An  ear  alone 

is  not  a  being;        music  is  one 

part  of  theatre.  "Focus"  is  what  aspects  one's 

noticing.  Theatre  is  all  the  various  things 
50"    going  on  at  the  same  time.  I  have  noticed 

that  music  is  liveliest  for  me  when  listening  for  instance 

doesn't  distract  me  from  seeing.  One  should 

take  music  very  naturally.  No 


at  all: 

45'    FOR    A    SPEAKER/1  49 

2'00"    only  technique 

worth  having. 

I  remember 

being  asked 

what  I 

thought  about 
10"    technique. 

And  at 

first  I 



to  say. 
20"    Several  days 

later  I 


I  have  no  time 

for  technique 

30"    I  must 

always  be  making 

one:  any 

technique  can 

be  discovered 

after  any  technique 
40"    is  forgotten. 

Another  technique 

I've  devised 

is  derived 

from  the 

I-Ching  method 
50"    of  obtaining 


And  a 


(also  I-Ching) 

which  interested  me 

(Lean  on  Elbow) 


3'00"    ( not  at  all  any  more ) 
is  that  which  is 
"mobility  •immobility". 



which  is  the  title  of  this  piece, 

( so  many  minutes 
20"    so  many  seconds ) , 

is  what  we 

and  sounds 

happen  in.  Whether  early  or  late: 

in  it. 

It  is  not  a  question  of  counting. 
30"    Our  poetry  now 

is  the  realization 

that  we  possess  nothing. 

Anything  therefore  ( Slap  table ) 

is  a  delight 

( since  we  do  not  possess  it ) 
40"    and  thus  need  ( Cough ) 

not  fear. 

This  composition  involves  a  flexible  use  of 

the  number  10,000:  that 


The  actual  time-lengths 
50"    are  changing.  This 

work  has  no  score.  It  should  be  abolished.  "A  statement  concerning  the 

arts  is  no  statement  concerning  the  arts."  It 

consists  of  single  parts.  Any  of  them  may 

be  played  together  or  eliminated  and  at  any 

time.  "To  me  teaching  is  an  expedient,  but  I  do 

45'    FOR    A    SPEAKER/1  51 

4'00"    not  teach  external  signs."  Like  a  long  book  if  a 

long  book  is  like  a  mobile.  "The  ignorant  be- 
cause of  their  attachment  to  existence  seize  on  signified 

or  signifying."  No  beginning  no  ending.  Harmony,  so-called, 

is  a  forced  abstract  vertical  relation  which  blots  Out  the  spontaneous 

transmitting  nature  of  each  of  the  sounds  forced  into  it.  It  is 
10"    artificial  and  unrealistic.  Form,  then,  is  not  something 

off  in  the  distance  in  solitary  confinement: 

It  is  right  here  right  now.  Since  it  is 

something  we  say  about  past  actions, 
it  is  wise 

to  drop  it. 
20"  This,  too,  giving  himself 

6-  his  quest  up  to  the  aimless  rolling 

of  a  metal  ball,  the  hero,  unquestioningly  does. 

They  proceed  thus,  by  chance,  by  no  will 

of  their  own  passing 

30"    through  many  perilous  situations. 

I  begin  to  hear  the  old  sounds,  the  ones 

I  had  thought  worn  out,  worn  out 

by  intellectualization,  I  begin  to  hear 

the  old  sounds  as  though  they  are  not 

worn  out.  Silence,  like  music,  is  non- 
40"    existent.  There  always  are  sounds.  That 

is  to  say  if  one  is  alive  to  hear  them. 

Obviously  they  are  not.  Whether  I  make  them 

or  not  there  are  always  sounds  to  be  heard  and 

all  of  them  are  excellent. 

We  bake  a  cake  ( Brush  Hair ) 

50"    and 

it  turns 


that  the  sugar 

was  not  sugar 

but  salt 

1  52/SILENCE 

5'00"    Are  you  deaf 

( by  nature,  choice,  desire ) 

or  can  you  hear 

( externals,  tympani,  labyrinths  in  whack )  ? 




By  no  means. 

( Blow  nose ) 

30"  The  twelve-tone  row  is 

a  method.    A  method 
is  a  control  of  each  single  note. 
Their  development,  the  climax, 
the  recapitulation 
which  is  the  belief  one  may  own  one's  own  home. 

'There  is  too  much  there  there.' 

There  is  not  enough  of 
nothing  in  it. 

So  far,  I  have  written  two  parts  for  a  pianist. 
50"    Either  part  can  be  played  alone  or  they  can  both 

be  played  together.  Each  piano  is  prepared  differently 
although,  as  a  matter  of  focus,  the  parts  could  be 
played  without  bothering  to  prepare  the  piano 
or  pianos.  If  prepared,  then,  generally, 
the  preparations  will  be  altered  in 

45'    FOR    A    SPEAKER/1  53 

6'00"    the  course 
of  the 

10"    The  principle  called  mobility-immobility  is  this : 

every  thing  is  changing 

but  while  some  things 

are  changing 


are  not. 

Eventually  those 

that  were 



begin  suddenly 

to  change 

et  vice  versa  ad  infinitum. 

A  technique  to  be  useful  ( skillful,  that  is ) 

must  be  such  that  it  fails 
50"    to  control 

the  elements  subjected  to  it.  Otherwise 

it  is  apt  to  become  unclear. 

And  listening  is  best 

in  a  state  of  mental 



7'00"    Composers  are  spoken  of  as  having 
ears  for  music  which  generally 
means  that  nothing  presented 
to  their  ears  can  be  heard  by  them. 
Their  ears  are  walled  in 
with  sounds 
10"    of  their  own  imagination. 

Of  five  aspects 


20"    two. 

The  highest  purpose  is  to  have  no  purpose 
at  all.  This  puts  one  in  accord  with  nature 
in  her  manner  of  operation.  If  someone  comes 
along  and  asks  why?,  there  are  answers. 

30"    However  there  is  a  story  I  have  found  very  help- 
ful.   What's  so  interesting  about 
technique  anyway?  What  if  there  are  twelve  tones  in  a 
row?  What  row?  This  seeing  of  cause  and  effect 
is  not  emphasized  but  instead  one  makes  an 
identification  with  what  is  here  and  now.  He 

40"    then  spoke  of  two  qualities .  Unimpededness  and  Inter- 

The  relationship  of  things  happening 
at  the  same  time  is  spontaneous 
and  irrepressible. 
50"    It  is  you  yourself 

in  the  form  you  have 

that  instant  taken. 

To  stop  and  figure  it  out 



45'    FOR    A    SPEAKER/155 


The  only  thing, 

pardon  me, 

that  I  do  not  find. 

The  preparation  of 

the  pianos 

is  also 

determined  by  chance. 

The  various  materials 
20"    that  exist 

are  placed  in  the 

following  categories: 

P  meaning  plastics,  bone,  glass,  etc., 

M  meaning  metal, 

C  meaning  cloth,  fibre,  rubber, 
30"    W  meaning  wood,  paper, 

X  meaning  other  materials,  special  circumstances, 

free  choices  etc. 

Coins  are  then  tossed. 

Form's  not  the  same  twice: 

50"    Sonatas 


That  two  or 

1  56/SILENCE 

9'00"    more  things  happen 

at  the  same  time 

is  their  relation. 

The  beginning  of 

this  work  in  progress 

was  not  a 
10"    part  for  a  pianist, 

but,  curiously  enough, 

six  short  parts 

no  one  of  them 

lasting  much  more 

than  a  minute, 
20"     for  a  string-player, 

that  is,  a  four-strings-player. 

Surely  things  happening 

at  different  times  are  also 
30"     related. 

If  it  needed  to  be  clear,  magnetic  tape 

makes  it  perfectly  so, 

that  we  are  not  in  a  twelve-tone 

or  any  other  discrete  situation. 

The  reason  I  am  presently  working 
40"     with  imperfections  in  paper  is  this : 

I  am  thus  able  to 


certain  aspects  of  sound 

as  though  they  were  in  a  field, 

50"    of  course 

they  are. 

The  sounds  that  had  accidentally  occurred 

while  it 

was  being  played  were  in 

45'    FOR    A    SPEAKER/1  57 

lO'OO"    no  sense  an  interruption. 
More  and 

I  have  the  feeling 
that  we  are  getting  nowhere. 


"Not  wondering  am  I  right  or 
doing  something  wrong." 
The  preparation  changes  that  occur 
during  a  performance  are 
a)  simple  change  of  position 
20"     b )  total  or  partial  addition  of  objects 
c)  total  or  partial  subtraction. 

Nothing  has  been  said  about 
Bach  or  Beethoven. 

30"    We  are  the  oldest  (it  makes  the  silence) 
at  having  our  air-way  of  knowing 

Years  ago  I  asked  myself 

"Why  do  I  write  music?" 
40"    An  Indian  musician  told  me  the 

traditional  answer  in  India  was 

"To  sober  the  mind  and  thus  make 

it  susceptible  to  divine  influences." 

Same  answer  is  given  by  some  old 

English  composer.  Consider  this  non-dualistically. 

"He  goes  by  me;  I  see  him  not.  He  passes 
on;  but  I  perceive  him  not."  These  pieces 
take  into  consideration  the  physical 
action  of  playing  an  instrument. 

1  58/SILENCE 

ll'OO"    You  won't  find  this  in  the  books. 

"Why  do  you  not  do  as  I  do?    Letting 

go  of  your  thoughts 

as  though 

they  were 

the  cold  ashes  of  a 
10"    long 

dead  fire?" 

What  has  taken  the  place  of  the  mobility-immobility  principle 

now  that  I  am  no  longer  interested  in  it?  Three  coins 

tossed  six  times  yield  a  hexagram  of  which 

there  are  sixty-four.  In  this  way  one  can  establish 
20"    which  of  sixty-four  possibilities  obtains.  And  changes. 

What  better  technique  than  to  leave 

no  traces?        To  determine  the  number  of 

imperfections  in  a  given  space,  coins  are  tossed. 

That  number  of  spots  is  then  potentially  active. 

Subsequent  tosses  determine  which  are  actually  active. 
30"    Tables  are  arranged  referring  to  tempi,  the  number 

of  superimpositions,  that  is  to  say  number  of  things 

that  can  go  on  at  once,  sounds  &  silences,  durations, 

loudnesses,  accents.  Sounds  together  (suffice  it  to  say). 

Structure  is  of  no  importance, 

however,  I  go  on  having  it  by  chance 
40"    to  determine  first  the  relative  probability 

of  the  three,  and  then  to  determine  which 

of  the  three  happens  in  the  world 

for  studying  music. 

It  doesn't  seem  to  me  to  affect  anything 

that  happens  in  it.  I  am  speaking,  of  course, 
50"     about  a  time  structure.  It  simply 

allows  anything  to  happen 

in  it. 

What  I  am  calling  poetry  is  often  called 

content.  I  myself  have  called  it 


45'    FOR    A    SPEAKER/159 

12'00"     It  is  the  continuity  of  a 
piece  of  music. 
Continuity  today 
when  it  is  necessary. 

A  fugue  is  a  more  complicated  game;  but 
10"     it  can  be  broken  up  by  a  single  sound, 
say,  from  a  fire  engine. 





30"  getting  sleepy  &  so  on. 

Very  frequently  no  one  knows  that 

contemporary  music  is  or  could  be 


He  simply  thinks  it  was  irritating.  ( Clap ) 

Irritating  one  way  or  another 
40"    that  is  to  say 

keeping  us  from  ossifying. 

It  may  be  objected  that  from  this  point 

of  view  anything  goes.  Actually 

anything  does  go, — but  only  when 

nothing  is  taken  as  the  basis.  In  an  utter  emptiness 
50"     anything  can  take  place. 

The  feeling  we  are 

getting  nowhere 

1  60/SILENCE 

13'00"    that  is  a  pleasure 

which  will  continue.  Why? 

The  way  to  test  a  modern  painting  is  this :  If 

it  is  not  destroyed  by  the  action  of 

shadows  it  is  genuine  oil  painting. 
10"     A  cough  or  a  baby  crying  will  not 

ruin  a  good  piece  of  modern  music. 

This  is 's  Truth.  As  contemporary  music 

goes  on  changing  in  the  way  I  am  changing  it 

what  will  be  done  is  to  more  &  more  completely  liberate  sounds. 

Of  course  you  do  know  structure  is  the  division 
20"    of  whatever  into  parts.  Last  year  when  I  talked 

here  I  made  a  short  talk.  That  was  because  I 

was  talking  about  something;  but  this  year  I 

am  talking  about  nothing  and  of  course 

will  go  on.  Magnetic  tape  music  makes  it  clear  we 

are  in 
30"    totality 




Let  your  ears  send  a 
message  of  surprise  or  perplexity.  That's  the  Way. 
Was  asked:  "Dr.  Suzuki,  what  is  the  difference  between 
men  are  men  &  mountains  are  mountains  before  studying  Zen 

&  men  are  men  &  mountains  are  mountains  after  studying  Zen?"  It  is  not  a  question  of 
50"     going  in  to  oneself  or  out  to  the  world.  It  is 

rather  a  condition  of  fluency  that's  in  and  out. 
Need  I  quote  Blake?  Certainly  not.  Spots  are  spots 
and  skill's  needed  to  turn  them  to  the  point 
of  practicality. 

45'    FOR    A    SPEAKER/1  61 

WOO"    Tape  music  requires  multiple  loud-speakers. 

And  it  seems  to  me  I  could  listen  forever  to 
Japanese  shakuhachi  music  or  the  Navajo 
Yeibitchai  or  I  could  sit  or  stand 
near  Richard  Lippold's  "Full  Moon" 
10"    any  length  of  time. 


But  those  beauties — 

Formerly  for  me 

time-length  was  a  constant.  Now  it,  too, 
20"    like  everything  else,  changes. 

Beginning  of  the 

third  unit 

of  the  fourth 

large  part. 

Yes  it  is.  Masterpieces  & 
geniuses  go  together  and  when,  by  running  from 
one  to  the  other,  we  make  life  safer  than  it 
actually  is,  we're  apt  never  to  know  the  dangers 
of  contemporary  music.  When  I  wrote  the  Imaginary  Landscape 
50"    for  twelve  radios,  it  was  not  for  the  purpose  of 
shock  or  as  a  joke  but  rather  to  increase  the 
unpredictability  already  inherent  in  the  situation 
through  the  tossing  of  coins.  Chance, 

to  be  precise,  is  a  leap,  provides  a  leap  out 
of  reach  of  one's  own  grasp  of  oneself.  Once 

1  62/SILENCE 

15'00"     done,  forgotten.  One  thing  to  do  with  time 

is  this:  Measure  it.  (Slap  table) 

"Cultivate  in  yourself  a  grand  similarity 
with  the  chaos  of  the  surrounding  ether;  un- 
loose your  mind,  set  your  spirit  free.  Be 
still  as  if  you  had  no  soul.  Every  one  returns 
10"    to  its  root,  &  does  not  know.  If  they  knew,  they 

would  be  leaving  it."    Structure.     Given  a  number 
of  actually  active  points,  they  are  an  aggregate,  a 
constellation,  they  can  move  about  among  themselves 
and  it  becomes  necessary  to  classify  the  kinds 
of  aggregates,  say  constant  and  again  intermittent. 







One  can  hear  a  sound. 

I  wrote 
some  music  for  carillon  for  Mary  Carolyn  Richards  using  differently 
shaped  scraps  of  paper  folded  and  small  holes  cut  in  them 
at  the  points  of  folding.  Then  used  these  as 
stencils  at  points  in  time-space  I-Ching  determined. 

If  you  are  interested  you  can  read  a  detailed 

description  of  it  that  will  appear 

in  the  forthcoming  issue  of  trans/formation. 

When  I  first  tossed  coins 
I  sometimes  thought:  I  hope  such  ir  such  will  turn  up. 

45'    FOR    A    SPEAKER/1  63 


'Earth's  no  escape  from  Heaven. 


How  can  we  speak  of  error  when  it  is 
understood  "psychology  never  again"?  It  should 
be  clear  from  what  I  am  saying  that  one's  one. 
Counterpoint  is  the  same  proposition  as  harmony 

20"    except  that  it  is  more  insidious.  I  noticed 
in  1938  that  some  young  people  were 
still  interested  in  it.  "Greater  earnestness 
is  required  if  one  is  going  to  solve  the 
really  important  problems." 

My  point  is  this: 

30"    various  techniques  can  go  together  all  at  the 
same  time.  Therefore  this  work,  I  am  using 
the  word  progress  with  which  in  connection, 
has  no  organizing  technique  supporting  it. 

Giving  up  counterpoint 

one  gets  superimposition 

and,  of  course, 

a  little  counterpoint  comes  in  of  its  own 
50"    accord. 

How  I  wouldn't    know. 

1  64/SILENCE 

17'00"    The  best  thing  to  do  about  counterpoint  is  what 
Schoenbergdid:  Teach  it. 




( Hold  up  hand,  gargle ) 

I  am  still  really 
thoroughly  puzzled  by  this  way  of  composing 

10"    by  observing  imperfections  in  paper.  It  is 
this  being  thoroughly  puzzled  that  makes 
it  possible  for  me  to  work.  I  am  puzzled 
by  hearing  music  well  played  too. 

If  I'm  not  puzzled  it 
wasn't  well  played.  Hopelessly  incompre- 

20"     hensible.  While  studying  music  things  get 
a  little  confused.    Sounds  are  no  longer 
just  sounds,  but  are  letters:  ABC  D  EF  G. 

At  the  end  of  the  journey  when  success 
is  almost  in  view: 

I  know  nothing.  All  I  can  do 
is  say    what    strikes  me 
as  especially 

45'    FOR    A    SPEAKER/165 

18'00"    in 


Unfortunately,  European 
thinking  has  brought  it  about  that  actual 
things  that  happen  such  as  suddenly 
10"     listening  or  suddenly  sneezing 
are  not 
considered  profound. 

Not  just  tones,  noises  too!  What 

the  physical  action 
20"    involved 

in  playing  an  instrument?  Yes 

For  instance, 
now,  my  focus  involves  very  little:  a  lecture 

30"     on  music :  my  music.  But  it  is  not  a 
lecture,  nor  is  it  music;  it  is,  of  neces- 
sity, theatre:  What  else?  If  I  choose, 
as  I  do, 
I  get  theatre,  that,  that  is,  I  get  that 

40"    too.  Not  just  this,  the  two. 

50"    Art  as  art  is  order  or  expression  or  integration 
of  these.  It  is  a  light,  the  Chinese  say,  but 
there  is  darkness.  What  is  now  unheard-of 
is  an  eight-loud-speaker  situation:  to  be  in 
the  center  of  transmission.  Sounds  coming 
from  every  direction.  After  eight  give  me  sixteen. 




Where  is  the  best  position  for  audition? 
The  corner  where  you  are!  It  is  understood 
that  everything  is  clean:  there  is  no  dirt. 
"Then  why  are  you  always  taking  baths?" 
"Just  a  dip:  No  why!"  For  me  it  is  a  matter 
of  getting  up    and    daily,  unless  commitments. 

That  is  finished  now 


it  was  a  pleasure 

And  now 

Just  the  same  only 
somewhat  as  though  you  had  your  feet  a 
little  off  the  ground.  Now,  at  the  beginning, 
before  studying  music,  men  are  men  &  sounds 

30"     are  sounds;  this  causes  some  hesitation  on  the 
hero's  part  but  he  finally  acquiesces. 

One  of  them  said:  He  must  have  lost 
his  favorite  animal.  Another  man  said:  No, 
it  must  be  his  friend.  "Do  you  only  take 
the  position 

40"    of  doing  nothing,  &  things 

of  themselves 

transformed."  Think  for 

a  moment  about  sound  how  it  has  pitch, 

50"    loudness,  timbre  and  duration  and  how 
silence  which  is  its  nonexistent  opposite 
has  only  duration.  Duration  structure. 

Error  is  drawing  a  straight  line  between 
anticipation  of  what  should  happen  and 

45'    FOR    A    SPEAKER/167 

20'00"    what  actually  happens.  What  actually 
happens  is  however  in  a  total  not 
linear  situation  and  is  responsible 
generally.  Therefore  error  is  a  fiction,  has 

10"    in  fact. 

Errorless  music  is  written  by  not  giving 
a  thought  to  cause  and  effect. 
Any  other 

kind  of  music  always  has  mistakes  in  it. 
In  other  words  there  is  no 

20"    split 

between  spirit  and  matter. 

And  to  realize  this  one  has  only  suddenly 

to  awake  to  the  fact. 

This  makes  possible  the  writing  of  such 
30"    durations  as  1/7  +  1/3  +  3/5,  all  fractions 

of  a  quarter.  This  brings 

about  an 

emphasis  on  uniqueness 

so  that  two  nearly  the  same 

durations  can  each  be  uniquely  itself 
40"    just  as 

two  leaves,  however  much  of  the  same  tree 

are  not 

identical.    If  there  is  time 

I  will  tell  about  my  visit 

to  the  anechoic  chamber 
50"    at  Harvard.  It  was  not 

silent.  Two  sounds:  one 

high,  one  low.    The  privileged  tones 

that  remain  are  arranged  in 

modes  or  scales  or  nowadays  rows 

&  an  abstract  process  begins  called 

(Lean  on  elbow) 


21'00"     composition.  Express  an  idea. 


The  only  structure 
which  permits  of  natural  activity  is  one  so 
flexible  as  not  to  be  a  structure;  I  write 
in  order  to  hear;  never  do  I  hear  and 
then  write  what  I  hear.  Inspiration  is  not 
a  special  occasion. 

After  studying 
music  men  are  men  and  sounds  are 
sounds.  And  subtract:  That  is  to  say,  at 
20"    the  beginning  one  can 

and  tell 


40"    In  the  direct  situation:  it  is 

If  you  don't  like  it  you  may 
to  avoid  it 
50"    but  what 

silence  requires  isn't  it. 

45'    FOR    A    SPEAKER/169 


What  I  think  &  what  I  feel  can  be 
my  inspiration  but  it  is  then  also  my 
pair  of  blinders.  To  see  one  must  go 
beyond  the  imagination  and  for  that 
one  must  stand  absolutely  still  as  though 
10"    in  the  center  of  a  leap. 


30"  Several 

stories  occur  to  me  that  I  should  like  to  interpolate  (in 
the  same  way,  by  the  way,  that  while  I  am  talking 
the  telephone  keeps  ringing  and  then  contemporary 
conversation  takes  place  instead  of  this  particular 
way  of  preparing  a  lecture). 

40"    It  is  high 
or  low 

has  a  certain  timbre 

50"    and  loudness. 

I  will  not  disturb  by  my  concern  the  structure 
of  anything  that 
is  going  to  be  acting;  to 
act  is  miracle  and  needs  everything  and 
every  me  out  of  the  way.  An  error  is  simply  a 


23'00"    failure  to  adjust  immediately  from  a  preconception 
to  an  actuality. 

However,  it  occurs  to  me 
to  say  more  about 
10"    structure. 

Specifically  this: 
We  are  now 
at  the  beginning. 

( Blow  nose,  rub  eyes ) 

20"     Or  not 

And  it  isn't 

a  human  being  or  something 

30"    to  look  at;  it  is  high  or  low- 
has  a  certain  timbre  &  loudness, 

lasts  a  certain  length  of  time. 

40"  End. 

It  is  necessary  to  see  that  there  is  not  only  a  sharp 
distinction  to  be  made  between  composing  and  listening 
but  that  although  all  things  are  different  it  is 
not  their  differences  which  are  to  be  our  concern 
but  rather  their  uniquenesses  and  their  infinite 

50"     play  of  interpenetration  with  themselves  and  with 

There  are  three  categories  of  noises 

45'    FOR    A    SPEAKER/171 

24'00"     in  the  two  parts  for  two  pianists:  those  produced  in- 
side the  piano  construction,  outside  the  same  and 
accessory  noises,  whistles,  percussions,  etc. 

Reading  music  is  for  musicologists.  There  is  no 
straight  line  to  be  drawn  between  notes 
10"    and  sounds. 


Vertically  in 

the  same 



30"    will 


It  was  originally  for  me  a  matter  of  flexibility 
by  means  of  changing  and  not  changing 
tempi.  The  matter  reduces  itself  however 

40"    to  time  which  is  short  or  long.  And  that 
to  a  process  of  multiplication  using  a 
variety  of  multiplicands.  Communication 
if  it  is 

required  is  a  way  of  calling 
attention  to  one's  own  psychology. 

50"     If  permitted,  it  takes  place  of  its  own 



for  all  the  world 


1  72/SILENCE 


If  it  were  the 
same  purpose  as  when  it  has  to  do  with  another  leaf 
it  would  be  a  coincidence,  imitation  of  nature 
from  which  each  leaf  should  hold  on  to  the 
complete  rule  which  would  be  free  because  it 
10"    adds  "in  her  manner  of  operation."  Then  it  will 
not  be  of  its  own  unique  position  in  space 
uniqueness,  plagiarism  of  result,  having  a 
particular  suchness,  but  active  from 
"before  operations  begin."  ( Is  eoctremely 
close  to 
20"    being 
now.)  (Clap) 

So  that  listening  one  takes  as  a  spring- 
30"    board  the  first  sound  that  comes  along; 

the  first  something  springs  us  into  nothing  and 
out  of  that  nothing  arises  the  next  something; 
etc.  like  an  alternating  current.  Not  one 
sound  fears  the  silence  that  extinguishes  it 
But  if  you  avoid  it,  that's  a  pity,  because 
40"    it  resembles  life  very  closely  &  life  and  it 
are  essentially  a  cause  for  joy.  People  say, 

50"    ways  of  predicting  the  weather  say  for  instance  it  is  in 
all  of  its  acoustical  details.  For  a  calculated 
theatrical  activity  I  would  say  offhand  that 
the  minimum  number  of  necessary  actions  going  on 
at  once  is  five.  Bright  people  can  clear  up 
rather  quickly  perplexity  arising  from  lower  numbers. 

45'    FOR    A    SPEAKER/173 

26'00"  Modern  intervals :  but  in  order  to  have 

them  the  mind  had  fixed  it  so  that  one  had  to 
avoid  having  progressions  that  would  make  one 
think  of  sounds  that  were  not  actually 
present  to  the  ear. 


He  is  most  utterly  indebted,  not  one  who 
struggles  to  force  his  idea?  and  who  would 
have  had  to  remain,  I  have  noticed. 
Calculated  actions  that  are  to  go  on  together 
need  not  have  been  composed  in  the  same 

20"    way.  One  runs  the  risk  of  falling  into 
a  marasm  of  idea  if  one  goes  on 
composing  without  discovering.  Turn  on  several 
radios  at  once.  There  again  one  has  a 
multiple  loud-speaker  system.  Besides 
actually  being  in  space,  the  mind  no  longer 

30"    can  function  as  A  B  C. 

Theatre  takes  place 
all  the  time  wherever  one  is  and  art  simply 
40"    facilitates  persuading  one  this  is  the  case. 

So  that  this  ignorance  I  speak  of  is  not  losing 
sensitivic  responsiveness,  on  the  contrary.  It 
is  a  question  of  when:  now.  "Flee  she 
up  or  flee  she  down."  It  acts  in 

50"    such  a 

that  one  can  "hear  through"  a  piece  of 
music  just  as  one  can  "see  through." 
Echoes,  breaking,  varying  its  speed,  and 
synchronized.  Skillful  means  has  a  good 


27'00"    deal  to  do  with  multiple  division  of  process. 
And  here  for  instance  we  begin  to  be  in 
a  state  of  immobility.  Anyone  can 
see  the  desirability  of  mobility.  Had  I  had 
nothing  to  say,  it  would  have  been  different.  All  it 
is  now  is  what  it  is :  faster  and  slower. 
10"  It  is  the 

space  between  the  loud-speakers  that  is  to  be  considered: 
From  a  desire  for  clarity,  great. 

20"  We  carry  our  homes 

within  us 

which  enables  us  to  fly 

Each  moment  presents  what  happens.  I 

derived  the  method  I  use  for  writing  music 

40"    by  tossing  coins 

from  the  method  used  in  the  Book  of  Changes. 
It  may  be  objected  that  from  this  point  of  view 
anything  goes. 

50"    Actually,  anything  does  go  but  only  when 
nothing  is  taken  as  the  basis. 
In  an  utter  emptiness 
anything  can  take  place.  And 

needless  to  say, 

45'    FOR    A    SPEAKER/175 

28'00"     each  sound  is  unique  ( had  accidentally  occurred  while  it  was  being  played ) 
and  is  not  informed 
about  European  history  and  theory: 
Keeping  one's  mind 
on  the  emptiness, 
on  the  space 
10"     one  can  see  anything  can  be  in  it,  is,  as 
a  matter  of  fact,  in  it. 

Were  in  no  sense  an  interruption. 
I  have  noticed 
20"    I  needed  a  way 
Something  else 

This  causes  some  hesitation 

hero  would  have  had  to  remain 
30"     now  knows  he  is  most 

asks  the  hero  to  kill  him. 

Three  kinds  of  them.  It  was  by  means  of 

words  we  became  subservient.  The  central 

point  is  everywhere  receiving  and  transmitting.  What 

is  passivity?  Only  one  monk  in  the  monastery  the  oldest  one  wrote  a  poem 
40"    but  he  stayed  up  night  and  day  deliberating  on  it.  The  other  monks  didn't  try 

because  they  were  certain  the  oldest  one  would  win.  When  his  poem 

finally  came  out,  it  said:  Continuity  takes  place  of  its  own 

accord  and  things  do  go  on  at  the  same  time. 

All  of  this  is  correct  and  true:  there  is  no  con- 
cern necessary  for,  say,  intonation,  counterpoint, 
50"     scales,  going  to  and  coming  from;  and,  then,  when? 

An  abstract  process  begins  called  composition.  That 

is:  a  composer 

uses  the  sounds  to  express  an  idea: 

What  then 

are  you  standing  up  there  for,  if  you 


29W'    say 



to  all  of  our  questions? 

The  man  on  high  said,  I  just  stand 

If  there  are  no  questions. 

This  means  for  me  knowing  more 

20"    more  not  what  I. 

If  it  is 

on  paper,  it  is  graphic:  calligraphy; 

if  you  can  hear  and  see  it,  it  is. 

There  are  no  answers.  Then,  of  course, 

there  are  answers  but  the  final 
30"    answer  makes  the  questions 

seem  absurd 

whereas  the  questions  up  until  then 

seem  more  intelligent  than  the 

answers.  Somebody  asked  Debussy 

Have  you  not  lost  your  friend? 

No,  sir,  I  have  not  lost  my  friend 


Is  it 

interesting?  It  is  and  it  isn't.  But 

one  thing  is  certain.  They  are  with 
50"    respect  to  counterpoint  melody 

harmony  rhythm  and  any  other 

musical  methods,  pointless. 

45'    FOR    A    SPEAKER/177 


All  that  is  necessary  is  an  empty 
space  of  time  and  letting  it  act  in  its  magnetic  way. 
Eventually  there  will  be  so  much  in  it  that 
whistles.  In  order  to  apply  it  to  all  of  these  various  characteristics 
he  necessarily  reduces  it  to  numbers.  He  has  also  found  a  math- 

10"    ematical  way  of  making  a  correspondence  between  rows.  I  remember 
as  a  child  loving  all  the  sounds  even  the  unprepared  ones;  I  liked  them 
especially  when  itself  in  the  jaws  cheeks  and  tongue 
and  the  commentary  says  "The  most  super- 
ficial way  of  trying  to  influence  others  is  through  talk 
that  has  nothing  real  behind  it.  The 

20"    influence  produced  by  such  mere  tongue- 
wagging  must  necessarily  remain  insignificant." 

"I  believe  that  one  can  arrive 

30"     at  directing  the  phenomenon  of  the  automatism  of 
Chance  which  I  mistrust  as  a  f  acility  which 
is  not  absolutely  necessary.  For,  in  the  end, 
in  interpolations  and  interferences  between 
different  rows  ( when  one  of  them  passes 
from  time-lengths  to  pitches,  at  the 

40"  same  time  that  another  passes  from 
intensities  to  attacks,  etc. )  there  is 
already  a  sufficiency  of  the  unknown." 

50"     ( Diminishes  his  love  and  increases  his  fear 
and  concern  about  what  people  will  think. ) 

(Bang  fist  on  table) 



There  is  all  the 

time  in  the  world  for  studying 

but  for  living  there  is  scarcely 

any  time  at  all. 

For  living  takes  place 

each  instant. 


40"    Unimpeded. 



There  are  two  great  dangers  for 
magnetic  tape:  one  is  music  ( all  the 
history  and  thinking  about  it) ;  and  the  other 
is  feeling  obliged  to  have  an  instrument. 

45'    FOR    A    SPEAKER/179 

32'00"    One  is  Pacific  231     1954    and  the  other: 
organ  music. 

If  you  are  interested  you  can 

read  a  detailed  description  of  it. 


If  there  are 
ten  things  to  do  and  I  only  do  two  of  them,  focus 
have  changed.  In  his  ear,  where  he  will  find  a  metal 
ball,  to  toss  it  on  the  road,  in  front  of  them,  so  that 
20"    as  the  horse  goes  on  to  say,  we  may  be  led 
by  it.  This  too  giving  himself. 

Is  there  anything 
else  to  say  about  structure? 

Yes,  it  goes  on 
30"     supporting  everything:  its  only  difficulty 
lies  where  struggle  to  support  is  already 

(Touch  nose  and  ears;  click) 

in  process.  Fearing  what? 

40"    Any  kind  of  paper  will  do  for  seeing  spots 
in  it. 

When  one  gets  around  to  copying  on  a 
second  sheet  what  was  given  by  a 
first  it  becomes  clear. 


1  80/SILENCE 

33'00"  Magnetic 

tape  as  being  all-interesting  can  disappear. 

There  are  rumors  of  machines  and  cards 

Let  us  move  however  for  unpredictability 

A  structure  is  like  a  bridge  from 



( Lean  on  elbow ) 

If  something  with  respect  to  something 
else  happens  sooner  or  later  everything  is  different 
but  essentially  nothing  of  any  permanent 
importance  has  happened.  I  am  talking 
30"    &  contemporary  music  is  changing.  Like  life 

it  changes.  If  it  were  not  changing  it  would  be  dead. 

That  is  why  chance  enters  for  me 
so  largely  into  my  means  which 
are  skillful.  It  is  at  the  point 

40"    of  potentiality. 

I  am 
working  now  to  work  without  charts,  without 
any  support  in  total  space.  I  see  now 
by  many  slow  transitions,  one  of  which 

50"    is  tempo  like  streams  (varying  &  not 
varying )  that  as  long  as  one  discrim- 
inates as  I  formerly 
did  problems  re- 
main. Each  one  of  us  is  thinking  his  own  thoughts 
his  own  experience  &  each  experience  is  changing  &  while  we 

45'    FOR    A    SPEAKER/1  81 

34'00"     are  thinking  ( to  get  yourself  in  such  a  state  of 
confusion  that  you  think  that  a  sound  is 
not  something  to  hear  but  rather  something  to  look  at) 
I  am  happy  about  all  the  experiences  I 
have  had  with  the  prepared  piano;  for  one  thing 
it  showed  me  how  different  two  pianos  are  from  one  another 
10"     and  music  (so-called) 

makes  us  think 

two  pianos  are  the  same.  It  isn't  true. 


( Hold  up  watch  [to  mike] ) 


It  is    tossed    out. 



It  just  happened  that  the  series 
of  numbers  which  are  at  the  basis  of  this 
work  add  up  to  100  x  100  which  is 
10,000.  This  is  pleasing,  momentarily:  The  world, 

1  82/SILENCE 

35'00"    the  10,000  things.  But  the  title  is  simply 
minutes  and  seconds.  Question  to  ask  you: 
How  do  you  need  to  cautiously  proceed 
in  dualistic  terms? 


Just  as  going  from 

10"    here  to  Egypt  is  a  single  trip  but  a 
more  or  less  complex  series  of 
experiences  or  just  as  Chinese 
characters  are  some  written  with  one 
stroke  but  others  with  two  or  several 
or  many  And  not 

20"    in  the  way  we  need  for  living.  For 
instance:  someone  said  Art  should 
come  from  overhead.  There  was 
a  social  calendar  and  hours 
for  breakfast  but  one  day  I 
saw  a  cardinal  and  the  same 

30"     day  heard  a  woodpecker.  I 
also  met  Meister  Eckhart.  Of 
course  Kansas.  Arizona  is  more 

40"    have  nothing  to  say  and  I  am  saying  it 
and  that  is  poetry. 

It  is  no  longer  a  case  of  moving  along 

50"    stepping  stones  ( scales  of  any  degree, 

series  of  no  matter  what ) ,  but  one  can 
move  or  just  appear  to,  at  any 
point  in  this  total  space,  long  enough 

45'    FOR    A    SPEAKER/1  83 

36'00"    to  see  the  end  of  this  craze  for  Bach.  A 
pupil  once  said  to  me:  I  understand 
what  you  say  about  Beethoven  &  I 
think  I  agree  but  I  have  a  very 
serious  question  to  ask  you:  How 
do  you  feel  about  Bach? 


Now  we  have  come  to  the  end  of  the 
part  about  structure. 

That  two  or  more 
20"    things  happen  at  the  same  time  is 

It  is  entirely  possible  for  something  to 

their  relationship:  Synchronicity.  That 
Break  for  instance 

means  at  the  center  moving  out  in  all 

directions  and  then  time  is  clearly 

Should  one  stop  and  mend  it? 

luminous.  It  could  not  be  easily  otherwise. 

go  wrong.  And  machines  are  never  synchronous 
40"    not  even  the  synchronous  ones.  If 
you  need  several  things  at  once,  use 
one  as  the  basis,  and  one  motor. 


(Lean,  cough) 

To  befit 
be  the  present.  Would  it  be  a 

repetition?  Only  if  we  thought  we 
owned  it,  but  since  we  don't,  it 
is  free  8t  so  are  we.  Most 

anybody  knows  about  the  future  and  ( "No"  of  hand  in  air,  lass  sound ) 

1  84/SILENCE 

37'00"    how  uncertain  it  is. 

A  sound  is  a  sound. 

To  realize  this :  one  has  to  put  a  stop 
to  studying  music. 

10"  The  most  enlivening  thing 

about  magnetic  tape  is  this :  whether  we  actually  do  it  or  not,  everything 

we  do  do,  say  what  we're  doing,  is  affected,  radically, 

by  it. 

Rhythm  is  not  arithmetic. 

And  so  is  this  unfinished  work:  so  far  for  two  pianists, 
20"    string-players,  lecturer 

Lines  of  demarcation  are  O.K. 

when  they  have  to  do  with  potentiality. 

It  must  be  clearly  understood  they  have 

nothing.  A  sound  accomplishes  nothing: 

without  it  life  would  not  last  out  the 
30"    instant.  It  is  only  irritating  to 

think  one  would  like  to  be  somewhere 

else.  Here  we  are  now. 

40"  It  becomes 

gradually  clear  to  us  dull-witted 
musicians  that  interpenetration 
means  that  each  one  of  these 
most  honored  ones  of  all 
is  moving  out  in  all  directions. 

50"    Penetrating  &  being  penetrated  no 

matter  what  the  time. 

Research  would 

45'    FOR    A    SPEAKER/1  85 

38'00"    then  take  place  in  the  field  of  music 
as  it  takes  place  normally  in  other 



Energizing,  whether  for  her  weal  or  for  her 

Testing    pictures: 
can  they  support  action    of    shadows? 

I  have 
been  satisfied  for  some  time  with  one  to 
sixty-four;  there  is  no  way  of  telling  how 
long  this  will  continue.  I  could  go  back 
30"    to  two  or: 

One  loud-speaker  is  insufficient  and  so 
are  two  or  three  or  four:  five  is 
40"    when  it  seems  to  me  to  begin.  What  begins 
is  our  inability  to  comprehend,  "that  on  the 
contrary  chance  ought  to  be  very  controlled. 

In  using  tables  in  general,  or  a  series  of  tables,  I 
believe  one  can 
50"     arrive  at  direct" 

is  what  interests  everyone  and  fortunately 
it  is  wherever  you  are  and  there  is 
no  place  where  it  isn't.  Highest  truth, 
that  is. 

1  86/SILENCE 


Eventually  everything  will  be  happening 
at  once:  nothing  behind  a  screen  unless  a  screen  happens  to  be 
in  front.  It  will  increasingly  be  a  thump  instead  of 
10"     a  bang.  The  thing  to  do  is  to  gather  up  one's 
ability  to  respond  and  go  on  at  varying  speeds. 
Following,  of  course,  the  general  outlines  of  the 
Christian  life.  I  myself  tend  to  think  of  catching  trains 
more  than  Christianity. 


Insisting  on  stimulating  activity,  though 

Without  a  multiple  loud-speaker  system,  all 

becomes  music  and  submissiveness.  But, 
30"    fortunately  the  piano  is  there  and  one  can 

always  prepare  it  in  a  different  way. 

Otherwise  it  would  become  an  instrument. 
It  is  like,  as 

Artaud  said,  a  disease.  No  avoiding.  And 

not  having  an  idea  about  it. 

The  thing 

to  do  is  to  keep  the  head  alert  but 

empty.  Things  come  to  pass,  arising 

and  disappearing.  There  can  then  be  no 

consideration  of  error.  Things  are  always  going 
50"    wrong. 

(Lean  on  elbow) 

( Whistle  three  times ) 

45'    FOR    A    SPEAKER/1  87 



We  re  apt  never  to  know 

something  else  is 

happening:  I  am  getting  nowhere  slowly 
as  the  talk  goes  on  slowly 
we  have  the  feeling  we're  getting  nowhere;  that 
is  a  pleasure  which  will  continue  if 
we  are  irritated  with  whatever.  This  goes 
20"    to  explain  what  he  means  when  he  says  that 

he  is  associated  with  all  of  the  sounds  &  so  can  foresee 
what  will  happen  even  though  he  has  not  written  the 
particular  notes  down  at  room  temperature  as  other  composers  do. 


And  I  have  noticed  something  else  about  most  anyone's 
music,  that  can  be  accomplished  to  increase  the  unpredictability 
already  inherent  in  the  situation: 

40"    The  control  must  be  at  one  point  only  and  so 
placed  that  it  has  no  effect  on  anything  that 
happens:  A  technique  which  results  in  no  technique,  etc. 
Of  course  the  answer  is  time  and  since 
we  have  them,  chronometers,  I  mean,  use 
them;  or  you  may  leave  it  forever  &  never 

50"    return.  Play  my  piece  for  bells.  Whether  I  hear  it 
or  not  is  of  no  consequence :  but  until  someone 
does,  music  is  at  a  standstill. 

Before  I  die,  I  shall 
leave  a  will,  because  if  you  want  some- 
thing done,  sentimentality  is  effective.  I 

1  88/SILENCE 

41'00"    haven't  the  slightest  idea  of  what  is  good 

in  the  world,  but  instead  quite  passively,  &  often 
against  what  might  be  considered  a  better 
judgment,  accepts  what  happens. 

I  find  that  it  is  important  to  take  a 
10"    multiplicity  of  steps. 

A  story  is  told  about  an  Irish  hero  that 

he  is  required  by  a  jealous  mother-in-law 

to  go  to  some  distant  island. 

At  all  costs  inspiration 
20"    must  be  avoided  which  is  to  say 

act  in  such  a  way  that  inspiration 

doesn't  come  up  as  an  alternative 

but  exists  eternally.  Then  of  course 

it  is  theatre  and  music  disappears 

entirely  into  the  realm  of  art  where 
30"    it  knows  it  belongs.  Art  silence  is 

not  real  silence  and  the  difference 

is  continuity  versus  interpenetration.  This  ( Light  match ) 

is  also. 



( Hold  up  hand ) 

Music  is  simply  trying  things  out  in 
school  fashion  to  see  what  happens. 
Etudes.  Making  it  easier  but  not 
real.  Theatre  is  the  only  thinf 
that  comes  near  what  it  is. 

This  means  for  me  knowing  more  & 
more  not  what  I  think  a  sound  is,  but 

45'    FOR    A    SPEAKER/1  89 



what  it  actually  is,  in  all  of  its  acoustical 
details  &  then  letting  the  sound  exist,  itself 
changing  in  a  changing  sonorous  environment. 

10"    The  way  it  does  it  is  by  the  intimacy  of 
multiplicity  and  emptiness.  The  mind  has 
nothing  in  it  but  everything  else  is  busy 
and  there  is  not  an  instant  lost  in 
doing  what  must  be  done.  Later  on,  if 
you  wish,  you  can  read  about  mobility 

20"    and  immobility.  To  repeat:  I  am  no 
longer  interested  in  it.  I  am  interested 
in  asymmetry. 

If  one  feels 

30"    protective  about  the  word  "music,"  protect 
it  and  find  another  word  for 
all  the  rest  that  enters  through  the 
ears.  It's  a  waste  of  time  to  trouble 
oneself  with  words,  noises.  What  it 
is  is  theatre  and  we  are  in  it  and 

40"    like  it,  making  it. 

50"  But  beware! 

Here  we  are  now  at  the 
middle  of  the  fourth  large  part 

1  90/S1LENCE 

43'00"    of  this  talk 


There  is  no 




such  thing  as  silence.  Something  is  al- 
ways happening  that  makes  a  sound. 

No  one  can  have  an  idea 

once  he  starts  really  listening. 

It  is  very  simple  but  extra-urgent 

The  Lord  knows  whether  or  not 

the  next 


(Bang  fist) 

45'    FOR    A    SPEAKER/1  91 


Forever?  Now? 


(Blow  nose) 

Hearing    or    making    this    in 

music    is    not    different 

only    simpler 

than    living    this    way.  Simpler 

that  is, — for  me,  because  it  happens.  ( Cough ) 

No  error. 

And  no  wondering  about  what's  next. 
40"    Going  lively  on  "thru  many  a 

perilous  situation."  ( Was  it  later  he  was 

discovered? )  And  what  is  your  purpose 

in  writing  music?  I  do  not  deal 

in  purposes;  I  deal  with  sounds. 

50"  sounds  are  those?    I  make 

them  just  as  well  by  sitting  quite 

still  looking  for  mushrooms. 

Growing  fast  in  sawdust. 
1  92/SILENCE 

Sonya  Sekula  said,  "Why  don't  you  come  with  me  to  the  Reises'?  They're  giving  a  party."  I  said  I 
wasn't  invited.  Sonya  said,  "Come  anyway;  they  won't  mind."  As  we  walked  in,  Mrs.  Reis  was  extremely 
friendly  in  her  greeting,  and  even  asked  what  I'd  like  to  drink.  I  said,  "Rum."  She  said,  "Oh,  I'm  so  sorry. 
I  don't  have  any  at  the  bar,  but  111  go  down  to  the  basement  and  get  some."  I  asked  her  not  to  bother, 
but  she  insisted.  While  she  was  gone,  I  made  my  way  over  to  the  bar  and  discovered  Bushmills  Irish 
whisky,  of  which  I  am  very  fond.  I  asked  for  some  and  began  drinking  it.  When  Mrs.  Reis  came  back 
with  the  rum,  naturally  I  drank  some  of  that.  As  the  time  passed,  I  drank  rum  when  Mrs.  Reis  was  looking 
and  Irish  whisky  when  she  wasn't.  After  a  while  Sonya  Sekula  said,  "Let's  go.  You  take  one  of  the  bottles 
of  Irish  and  I'll  get  my  coat  and  meet  you  downstairs."  I  said,  "You  take  the  bottle;  I'll  get  your  coat." 
She  said,  "O.K."  I  went  downstairs,  picked  up  a  fur  coat;  Sonya  came  running  down  with  the  Irish;  we 
went  out  into  the  snow.  I  said,  "Do  you  want  your  coat  on?"  She  said,  "No.  The  car's  right  here.  Just 
throw  it  in  the  back  seat."  A  few  blocks  along,  Sonya  said,  "That's  not  my  coat."  I  said,  "How  do  you 
know?"  She  said,  "The  perfume."  We  drove  on  to  Grand  Street,  went  upstairs,  and  killed  the  Irish.  We 
talked  all  the  time  about  selling  the  coat  in  some  distant  city.  Sonya  said  she  knew  a  fence  in  St.  Louis. 
About  midnight  I  called  the  Reises  and  spoke  to  Mr.  Reis.  I  said,  "I  have  the  coat."  He  said,  "Thank  God!" 
We  made  arrangements  for  my  bringing  it  to  his  office  in  the  morning.  When  I  got  there  I  explained  it 
had  all  been  a  mistake.  Before  we  said  good-by,  he  whispered,  "No  one  will  ever  hear  a  word  about  this." 
I  went  to  the  elevator.  He  came  running  down  the  hall  and  said,  "What  about  Mrs.  Reis's  coat?"  I  said, 
"I  don't  know  anything  about  her  coat;  I  didn't  take  it." 

Two  wooden  boxes  containing  Oriental  spices  and  foodstuffs  arrived  from  India.  One  was  for  David 
Tudor,  the  other  for  me.  Each  of  us  found,  on  opening  his  box,  that  the  contents  were  all  mixed  up.  The 
lids  of  containers  of  spices  had  somehow  come  off.  Plastic  bags  of  dried  beans  and  palm  sugar  had  ripped 
open.  The  tin  lids  of  cans  of  chili  powder  had  come  off.  All  of  these  things  were  mixed  with  each  other 
and  with  the  excelsior  which  had  been  put  in  the  box  to  keep  the  containers  in  position.  I  put  my  box 
in  a  corner  and  simply  tried  to  forget  about  it.  David  Tudor,  on  the  other  hand,  set  to  work.  Assembling 
bowls  of  various  sizes,  sieves  of  about  eleven  various-sized  screens,  a  pair  of  tweezers,  and  a  small  knife, 
he  began  a  process  which  lasted  three  days,  at  the  end  of  which  time  each  spice  was  separated  from  each 
other,  each  land  of  bean  from  each  other,  and  the  palm  sugar  lumps  had  been  scraped  free  of  spice  and 
excavations  in  them  had  removed  embedded  beans.  He  then  called  me  up  to  say,  "Whenever  you  want 
to  get  at  that  box  of  spices  you  have,  let  me  know.  Ill  help  you." 

One  of  Suzuki's  books  ends  with  the  poetic  text  of  a  Japanese  monk  describing  his  attainment  of 
enlightenment.  The  final  poem  says,  "Now  that  I'm  enlightened,  I'm  just  as  miserable  as  ever." 

While  Meister  Eckhart  was  alive,  several  attempts  were  made  to  excommunicate  him.  (He  had,  in 
his  sermons,  said  such  things  as  "Dear  God,  I  beg  you  to  rid  me  of  God.")  None  of  the  trials  against 
him  was  successful,  for  on  each  occasion  he  defended  himself  brilliantly.  However,  after  his  death,  the 
attack  was  continued.  Mute,  Meister  Eckhart  was  excommunicated. 

45'    FOR    A    SPEAKER/1  93 

When  I  was  invited  to  speak  in  January  1961  at  the  Evening  School  of 
Pratt  Institute  in  Brooklyn,  I  was  told  that  the  burning  questions  among  the 
students  there  were:  Where  are  we  going?  and  What  are  we  doing?  1  took  these 
questions  as  my  subjects  and,  in  order  to  compose  the  texts,  made  use  of 
my  Cartridge  Music. 

The  texts  were  written  to  be  heard  as  four  simultaneous  lectures.  But  to 
print  four  lines  of  type  simultaneously— that  is,  superimposed  on  one  another— 
was  a  project  unattractive  in  the  present  instance.  The  presentation  here  used 
has  the  effect  of  making  the  words  legible— a  dubious  advantage,  for  I  had 
wanted  to  say  that  our  experiences,  gotten  as  they  are  all  at  once,  pass 
beyond  our  understanding. 

A  part  of  this  lecture  has  been  printed,  in  a  different  typographical 
arrangement,  in  Ring  des  Arts,  Paris,  summer  1961.  The  entire  lecture  has  been 


recorded  by  C.  F.  Peters,  New  York,  in  the  form  of  four  single-track  tapes 
(7/2  ips,  forty-five  minutes  each).  The  following  is  a  set  of  directions: 
Four  independent  lectures  to  be  used  in  whole  or  in  part— horizontally  and 
vertically.  The  typed  relation  is  not  necessarily  that  of  a  performance. 
Twenty-five  lines  may  be  read  in  1  minute,  1%  minutes,  1%  minutes,  giving 
lectures  roughly  37,  47,  57  minutes  long  respectively.  Any  other  speech  speed 
may  be  used. 

A  performance  must  be  given  by  a  single  lecturer.  He  may  read  "live"  any 
one  of  the  lectures.  The  "live"  reading  may  be  superimposed  on  the  recorded 
readings.  Or  the  whole  may  be  recorded  and  delivered  mechanically.  Variations 
in  amplitude  may  be  made;  for  this  purpose,  use  the  score  of  my  composition 
WBAI  (also  published  by  C.  F.  Peters). 

I  was  driving  out  to  the  country  once  with  Carolyn  and  Earle  Brown.  We 
got  to  talking  about  Coomaraswamy's  statement  that  the  traditional  function  of 
the  artist  is  to  imitate  nature  in  her  manner  of  operation.  This  led  me  to  the 
opinion  that  art  changes  because  science  changes— that  is,  changes  in  science 
give  artists  different  understandings  of  how  nature  works. 

A  Phi  Beta  Kappa  ran  in  the  other  day  and  said,  "Your  view  is  that  art 
follows  science,  whereas  Blake's  view  is  that  art  is  ahead  of  science." 

Right  here  you  have  it:  Is  man  in  control  of  nature  or  is  he,  as  part  of  it, 
going  along  with  it?  To  be  perfectly  honest  with  you,  let  me  say  I  find  nature 
far  more  interesting  than  any  of  man's  controls  of  nature.  This  does  not  imply 
that  I  dislike  humanity.  I  think  that  people  are  wonderful,  and  I  think  this 
because  there  are  instances  of  people  changing  their  minds.  (I  refer  to 
individuals  and  to  myself. ) 

1  94/SILENCE 

Not  all  of  our  past,  but  the  parts  of  it  we  are  taught,  lead  us  to  believe  that 
we  are  in  the  drivers  seat.  With  respect  to  nature.  And  that  if  we  are  not,  life 
is  meaningless.  Well,  the  grand  thing  about  the  human  mind  is  that  it  can  turn 
its  own  tables  and  see  meaninglessness  as  ultimate  meaning. 

I  have  therefore  made  a  lecture  in  the  course  of  which,  by  various  means, 
meaning  is  not  easy  to  come  by  even  though  lucidity  has  been  my  constant 
will-of-the-wisp.  I  have  permitted  myself  to  do  this  not  out  of  disdain  of  you 
who  are  present.  But  out  of  regard  for  the  way  in  which  I  understand  nature 
operates.  This  view  makes  us  all  equals— even  if  among  us  are  some 
unfortunates:  whether  lame,  blind,  stupid,  schizoid,  or  poverty-stricken. 

Here  we  are.  Let  us  say  Yes  to  our  presence  together  in  Chaos. 

If  we  set  out  to  catalogue  things 

today,  we  find  ourselves  rather 

endlessly  involved  in  cross- 

referencing.  Would  it  not  be 

Those  of  us  who  don't  agree  are  going 

less  efficient  to  start  the  other 

around  together.  The  string  Duchamp  dropped. 

way  around,  after  the  fashion  of 

He  took  the  apartment  without  being  able  to 

some  obscure  second-hand  bookstore? 

pay  for  it.  They  danced  on  a  concrete  floor. 

The  candles  at  the  Candlelight  Concert  are 

One  New  Year's  Eve  I  had  too 
electric.  It  was  found  dangerous 

many  invitations.  I  decided  to 
for  them  to  be  wax.  It  has  not  yet 

WHERE    ARE    WE    GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING7/195 

go  to  all  the  parties,  ending  up 
been  found  dangerous  for  them  to 

at  the  most  interesting  one.  I 
be  electric — and  this  in  spite  of 

arrived  early  at  the  one  I  was 
the  air-conditioning.  If  1  were 

sure  would  be  dull.  I  stayed  there 
able  to  open  my  windows,  I  think 

the  whole  evening— never  got  to  the  others. 
I  would  do  it  often,  and  for  no  reason  at  all. 

I  would  have  written  sooner  but 

I  picked  up  the  book  and 

could  scarcely  put  it  down.  It  is  absolutely 

charming.  Tm  going  to  write  to  the  author. 

How  can  we  go  over  there  when 

we  haven't  the  least  idea  of 

what  we  will  find  when  we 

get  there?  Also  we  don't 

Three  birds  and  a  telephone  ringing.  Does 

know  how  to  land,  and  we 

that  relate  to  where  we  are  going?  Does 


have  no  way  of  trying  it 

it  tell  us  the  direction  to  take:  out 

1  96/SILENCE 

out  beforehand.  Perhaps  we 

the  window  and  down  the  hall? 
will  sink  into  a  huge  mile- 

I  take  a  sword  and  cut  off  my 
thick  pile  of  dust.  What  then? 


head  and  it  rolls  to  where  we 

are  going.  The  question  is:  Do  they 

mean  it  when  they  say  No  Trespassing? 

In  a  sense  we  are  going  to  extremes. 

You  want  to  know  what  we're  doing? 

That  is  what  we  are  doing.  In  fact 

We're  breaking  the  rules,  even  our 

we  don't  need  to  go  to  bring  that 

own  rules.  And  how  do  we  do  that? 

into  our  action.  We  tend  to  rush 

By  leaving  plenty  of  room  for  X  quantities. 

to  what  we  think  are  the  limits 

The  house  had  been  so  well  built  that 

only  to  discover  how  tamed  our 
even  though  it  burned,  it  did  not 

After  we  have  been  going  for  some 

ambitions  were.  Will  we  ever  learn 
burn  down.  The  fire  gutted  it. 

time,  do  we  mellow?  ( They  used  to 

WHERE    A  R       WE    GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    D  O  I  N  G  ?  /  1  9  7 

that  it  is  endless?  What  then 
We're  not  going  to  become  less 
say  we  would. )  Mellowing  is  sof- 

ts an  extreme?  The  very  low  sounds, 
scientific,  but  more  scientific.  We 
tening.  Left  to  ourselves,  if  the 

extremely  low,  are  so  little  available 
do  not  include  probability  in  science. 
birds  didn't  get  us,  we'd  putrefy. 

We're  putting  art  in  museums,  getting  it  out 

to  us  and  yet  we  rush  to  them 
Do  I  thank  you  or  the  one  who's 
Of  course,  our  air-conditioning 

of  our  lives.  We're  bringing  machines 
and  don't  get  them.  We  find 
opening  and  closing  the  door?  On  days  when 
is  such  that  if  we  just  managed 

home  to  live  with  us.  Now  that 

them  too  soft.  We  want  them 

nobody  answers,  we  stop  telephoning.  We  are 

to  die  under  its  influence  we'd 

the  machines  are  here  so  to  say  to 
extremely  loud.  If  you  announced 
going  and  then  coming  back  and  going  and 
not  putrefy:  we'd  dry  up. 

1  98/SILENCE 

stay  with  us,  we've  got  to  find 

that  there  was  going  to  be  a  low 
coming  back  again.  Eventually  we 
But  since  the  windows  won't 

ways  to  entertain  them.  If  we  don't, 
and  loud  sound,  I  imagine 
will  go  and  not  come  back  at  all. 
open,  we  could  scarcely  be  ex- 

they'U  explode,  but  as  for  going,  we're 

quite  a  number  of  us  would 


pected  to  blow  away.  I've  always 

going  out.  Did  we  just  notice  the  moon 

rush  to  hear  it.  What  about  an 


had  my  heart  set  on  cremation 

or  was  it  there  always?  Where  we're 
extremely  loud  high  sound?  Hear! 


but  now  I  see  the  reason  for  earth, 

going  is  not  only  to  the  moon  but  out  into 

Anxiety  enters.  Some  of  us  would  stay 


it  frees  the  air  from  dead  influences. 

space.  Home  is  discrete  points.  Space  is  an 
put  and  say,  "Tell  me  about  it." 
The  house  is  built  around  a  large 

infinite  field  without  boundaries.  We  are 

Once  someone's  done  something, 
chimney,  so  large  that  on  a  good 

leaving  the  machines  home  to  play  the 
it's  no  longer  his  responsibility. 
day  when  the  flue  is  open,  the  sun 

old  games  of  relationships,  addition  and 

It's  someone  else's.  It  could  of 

shines  on  the  hearth.  We're  getting  into 

who  wins.  ( We're  going  out. )  A  teen-ager- 
course  be  his  again,  but  what 
our  heads  that  existence,  the  existence  of 

served  custard  that  had  wheyed — said,  "My 

would  he  do?  I  asked  the  three  girls 

a  sound,  for  instance,  is  a  field 

At  the  beginning  of  our  going,  it  seems 

mother  bakes  custard  too,  but  she 

what  they  would  take  with  them 
phenomenon,  not  one  limited  to 
that  we  are  going  our  separate  ways, 

doesn't  put  water  in  it."  Let  us  admit, 

to  the  Caribbean.  The  third  was 
known  discrete  points  in  that  field — the 
that  we  have  nothing  further  to  say 

once  and  for  all,  that  the  lines 

going  to  take  some  fish  and  a 

conventionally  accepted  ones — but  capable 

to  one  another,  and  we  leave  behind 

we  draw  are  not  straight. 

bird  which  she  cannot  because 

of  appearance  at  any  point  in  the  field. 

in  particular  the  ways  we  learned  to 

they're  being  housed  by  friends  when 
This  brings  about  a  change  in  our  heads. 
communicate.  Later  on 

she  and  her  family  go  away.  I 


we  won't  bother  about  any  of  that. 

pointed  this  out:  "Since  you  can't 
We'll  be  one  happy  anarchistic  family. 

take  the  bird  and  the  fish,  what 
We  haven't  any  time  left  to  stay:  we 


will  you  take?  Your  sisters 

must  go  now.  Though  his  ears  are 

have  said  what  they'll  take." 

WHERE    ARE    WE    GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING?/199 

extraordinarily  sensitive  and  he's  a  Quaker, 

There  was  no  answer.  Shortly, 

he  recommended  a  restaurant  with  Muzak. 

but  after  her  sisters,  she  ran  up- 

stairs to  bed.  "Tuck  me  in.* 

She  drives  rapidly;  her  life  is  shorter. 

Everything  is  ready  for  tomorrow  morning. 

I  must  remember  to  turn  out  the  lights. 


Small  telephones  for  those  near  the 

central  telephone  and  large  telephones 

for  those  farther  away  following 

what  one  calls  a  law  of  nature. 

If  there  are  as  many  ways  as 

there  are  of  looking,  there  must 

be  at  least  three  ways  of  going— not 

so  much  ways  as  wheres.  Well, 

there  you  have  it:  If  I  go  over 

there  and  stop,  could  I  not  have 

The  trouble  with  Denver  is  its  past. 

gone  slightly  to  the  left?  As  I 

San  Francisco  used  to  have  the  same 
go,  direction  changes.  It  is  not 

problem.  But  how  are  we  going  to  know 

measurable.  But  it  is  precise 

where  to  go  when  it  doesn't  make 

going.  One  moved  off  to  the  south, 

the  least  difference  to  us  where  we 

and  when  I  measured  he  was  going 

go?  The  problem  is  simple:  You 

north.  Or  I  crossed  the  stream  at  the 

WHERE    ARE    WE    GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING7/201 

"Powdered  eggs  are  good  enough  for  me." 

either  stay  put  until  you  get 

point  where  the  water  was  going  both 
It's  not  the  air-conditioning;  it's  the 

an  invitation  or  you  make  your- 

ways.  They  say  how  fast  and  there 
radiant  heating  in  the  ceiling:  it  makes 

self  an  invitation  written  in  such 
is  no  way  to  answer.  Tempo  is  out 
me  think  someone's  up  on  the  roof. 

a  way  that  you  couldn't  know, 

but  comes  back  in.  You  might  add: 
They  played  a  game  in  which  she 
At  the  present  time  it  seems 

when  you  wrote  it,  what  you 

There  was  no  need  for  us  to  have  gone. 
was  the  sun.  One  man  was  the 
reasonable  not  to  go.  The  weather 

were  writing,  and  where  it  would 


earth  and  the  other  was  the  moon:  a 

is  not  made  for  adult  affairs 

be  sending  you  going.  And  other  ways. 

choreography.  Now  what  shall  we  do? 

( and  the  furtherance  of  the  national 

economy)  but  for  the  games  of 

children.  Even  if  we  sense 

I  wander  out  in  the  hall  expecting 

a  certain  obligation  to  go  we 

to  see  someone.  It  turns  out  it  wasn't 

Do  you  remember  the  story  of  his 


may  very  likely  not  be  able  to. 

anybody:  it  was  a  machine.  I'm  as 

hanging  his  shoes  out  of  his  own 
Whether  or  not  we  want  it,  we 

crazy  as  a  loon:  I'm  invited  out  to 

reach,  so  that  rather  than  taking 
are  insured.  And  we  say  it  is  a 

dinner.  I  keep  telling  myself:  Before 

the  trouble  of  getting  them  down, 
good  thing.  The  thing  to  do  is  not  to 

you  go  to  bed,  be  sure  to  close  the 

he  would  simply  go  on  doing  what 
have  one  policy  but  many  and  then 

bathroom  door;  if  you  don't,  you'll 

he  was  doing  and  not  go  out?  From 
there  is  the  possibility  that  the  central 

just  have  to  get  up  and  close  it 

what  I  hear,  there  are  ideas  that 
office  will  get  confused.  (It  happens.) 

later.  We  are  going  stupidly  to  places 

we  have  not  yet  had  simply  be- 
We  are  going  to  realize  that  our 

we  have  never  been.  Going  away  from 
cause  we  don't  yet  have  the  language 
analytic  method  of  approaching 

home,  sometimes  lost,  we  come  by 
to  have  them.  But  even  in  our 
the  material  we  are  working  with 

circle,  home  again.  We're  surprised: 

own  language,  it  seems,  there 
(sound,  I  mean)  which  was  so 

it's  changed.  Did  it  slip — out 

are  ideas  that  are  confined 

useful  is  going  to  give  place  to 

What  we  do  is  not  utterly  different  from 

from  under  us?  The  day  in  the 

to  systems,  each  to  a  single  one, 
some  other  means,  some  other 

what  we  used  to  do.  That  is:  we 

woods_I  took  a  compass  was  the 

which  means  there  would  be 

useful  means.  Its  awkwardness  led  us 

used  to  get  an  idea  and  do  it  and 

day  I  got  lost  for  sure.  Two  years 

times  when  it  would  be  reason- 
willy-nilly  into  a  certain  sloppiness. 

then  someone  else  had  to  do  more 

later  when  I  was  throwing  it  out, 

able  to  say  Yes  and  other  times 
(That  was  not  without  its  hilarious 

or  less  what  he  was  told  to  do. 

a  child  to  whom  I'd  given  a  bass 

when  it  would  be  absurd  to  say 
effects  which  we  in  our  deadliness 
Now  we  get  an  idea  and  present 

drum  asked  whether  he  might  also  have 

that  same  word.  Ideas  take  on 

did  not  notice.)  There  is  a  lingering 

it  in  such  a  way  that  it  can 

the  compass.  The  first  thing  she  said 
WHIR!    ARE    WE    GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING7/203 

a  kind  of  material  reality 
confusion,  paying  heed  to  results 
be  used  by  him  who  is  going  to 

was:  "Everyone's  confused;  there  isn't 

but  essentially  they  are  intangible. 
rather  than  actions  (the  only  solution 
do  it.  Someone  once  raised  the 

anyone  now  who  isn't  confused." 

My  question  is:  Why  do  we,  as 

is  to  stay  where  you  are:  it's  you  acting). 

question  who  gets  the  credit.  The 

Or  was  that  the  first  thing  she  said? 

it  were,  imprison  them?  Of 


listener  gives  it  to  himself  when 

all  things,  they  are  best  equipped, 

he  gets  it.  All  the  people  have 

wouldn't  you  say,  to  fly  in  and 
People  always  want  to  know  what 
become  active  and  enjoy  what  you 

out  of  the  most  unlikely  places? 
we're  doing  and  the  last  thing  we 
might  call  individual  security. 

Off  hand,  for  instance,  we  can  do 

want  to  do  is  keep  it  a  secret.  But 

The  composer  also  has  ears  on  his  head. 

one  thing  at  a  time.  But  we 
the  truth  is  we  don't  know  what 

used  to  admire  those  artists  of 
we're  doing  and  that  is  how  we 

vaudeville  who  did  several 
manage  to  do  it  when  it's  lively. 

at  once.  To  their  three,  say, 

I  believe,  of  course,  that  what  we're 

we  could  add  our  one.  But  at 
doing  is  exploring  a  field,  that  the 

a  circus,  three  rings,  though 
field  is  limitless  and  without 

high  up,  I  remember  I 
qualitative  differentiation  but  with 

could  only  look  at  one  ring 
multiplicity  of  differences, 

at  a  time.  I  kept  missing  or 
that  our  business  has  changed 

thinking  I  was  missing  some- 
from  judgment  to  awareness — 

thing.  On  the  other  hand,  if 
I  believe  all  this  and  it  makes 
Travel  was  not  only  possible. 

what  I'm  doing  is  digging  the 
me  speechless,  for  there  is  nothing 
It  was  widely  engaged  in.  On 

hog  peanut,  then  it  actually  happens 

to  say.  For  if  I  say  I  am 

both  sides  of  the  streets,  the  two- 

that  I  can  converse,  notice  changes 

especially  active  in  the 

way  ones,  there  were  long  lines 

in  temperature,  take  as  perfectly 
amplification  of  small  sounds 
of  traffic  proceeding,  to  be  sure, 

natural  the  discovery  of  geasters 
and  work  with  the  voice,  it 
slowly,  but  getting,  one  assumed, 

growing  underneath  the  surface 
doesn't  tell  you  what  the  others 
eventually  where  they  were  going. 

of  the  earth  when  I  knew 

(who  are  also  us)  are  doing.  Would 

People  also  were  walking  and  a 

It's  very  curious.  I  remember  recording 

perfectly  well  the  books  don't  men- 
it  be  accurate  co  say  then  that 

very  large  crowd  attended  the 

machines  with  dials  and  clutches. 

tion  they  do  or  can.  Perhaps  a  live 
we  are  all  off  in  separate  corners 

Candlelight  Concert.  Was  it  because 

Then  later  there  were  push  buttons.  Now 

ghost  might  have  made  an  ap- 
engaged  in  our  special  concerns? 
it  was  a  tradition?  It  must 

WHERE    ARE    WE    GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING7/205 

one  has  the  feeling  we're  going  to 

parition  and  I  would  have 

No.  It  is  more  to  the  point  to  talk 

be  that  that  is  the  case:  the  lady 

have  dials  again.  We  need 

found  it  perfectly  unremarkable. 
about  the  field  itself,  which 
beyond  the  one  sitting  next  to  me 

desperately  when  it  comes  to  a 

Is  this  the  effect  of  concentration? 
is  that  it  is  and  enables  us 
whispered  to  my  neighbor  that 

machine  to  be  able  to  go  at  any  speed. 

//  only,  she  said,  I  have  a 

all  to  be  doing  the  same  thing 

the  program  this  year  was  not 

thread,  I  can  then  take  the 
so  differently.  And  about  this 
as  entirely  appreciated  by  her 

rest,  hanging  on  as  it  were. 
field,  nothing  can  be  said.  And 
as  the  one  last  year.  And 

We  also  discussed  the  mortality  of 
yet  one  goes  on  talking,  in  order 
when  they  first  came  in,  they 

birds  in  connection  with  modern  architecture. 
to  make  this  clear.  Suzuki  Daisetz 
sat  down  in  the  reverse  relation 

Instead  of  living  and  learning,  don't  we 


laughed  many  times  quietly:  once 

to  me  that  I  have  just  described 

live  by  learning  we're  not  learning? 


it  was  when  he  was  discussing 
so  that  the  one  who  was  later 

For  instance:  When  I  moved  to  the 


the  quality  of  not  being  explicable 

my  neighbor  was  then  at  the 

country  I  no  sooner  found  myself 

They  have  curious  regulations  for 
and  pointing  out  that  he  had 
beginning  beyond  my  neighbor. 

insatiably  involved  in  tramping 

pedestrians.  After  the  light  turns 
come  from  Japan  with  the  inten- 
She  whispered  her  approval  of 

through  the  woods  than  summer 

red,  there  is  a  white  one  and 

tion  of  making  explicit  this 

the  wreaths  and  ropes  of  greenery 

passed  through  fall  into  an 

then  the  people  walk  wherever 


quality  which  was  of  not  being  clear. 

which  decorated  the  chapel 

icy  winter.  I  made  some 

they  wish,  crossing  the  intersection 
(My  words,  it  goes  without  saying, 
along  with  the  electric  lights  and 

inquiries  and  finally  got  to 

even  diagonally.  One  begins  to  think 
are  not  the  ones  he  used.)  We 
electric  candles.  She  found  them 

a  municipal  office  where  I 

it's  better  when  we're  going  not 
don't  any  more  take  vacations.  Or 
more  beautiful  than  last  year. 

filled  out  blanks  that  led  to 

to  pay  attention  to  the  signs. 

if  through  special  circumstances  we 

Very  rarely  do  people  any  more 

my  getting  a  license  for  hunting 

It  is  as  though  we  were  looking 
are  obliged  to  take  a  vacation,  we 
flock  to  a  public  occasion. 

and  fishing.  Then  I  bought  some 
with  other  eyes  than  our  own.  I  mean 
take  what  we're  doing  with  us. 
Apparently  if  you  keep  some- 
ingenious  paraphernalia  for  fishing 
the  way  we  are  going  is  transform- 
There  is,  in  fact,  no  way  to  get  away. 

thing  traditional  they'll  still  do 

on  an  ice-covered  body  of  water. 

ing  our  vision.  And  the  profound- 


it,  providing  the  weather  permits. 

Dressed  as  warmly  as  possible, 

est  changes  take  place  in  the 


One  thing  I  found  a  bit  jarring 

I  drove  up  to  the  lake,  chopped 

things  we  thought  the  most 


was  the  switching  on  of  the  electric  lights  that 

holes  in  the  ice,  fixed  hooks 

familiar.  On  the  first  trip  when 


suddenly  gave  the  effect  of  sun- 

and  lines  and  waited  for 

the  cat  was  taken  up  to  that 


light  streaming  through  the 

little  red  flags,  popping  up, 

town  near  Boston  (because  they  were  going 


stained  glass  windows  high  above 

to  signal  success.  I  heard 

away)  it  got  sick;  they  nursed  it  back. 

the  chorus  and  orchestra.  I  glanced 
WHERE    ARE    WE    GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING9/207 

the  sounds  that  travel  through 

On  the  second  trip,  the  cat  died. 


along  the  sides  of  the  chapel.  The 
the  ice  as  it  freezes;  I  was 

windows  there  were  not  illuminated. 

astonished.  Later,  I  was  on  the 

The  tradition  of  focusing  one's 

ice  as  the  sun,  setting,  colored 

attention  was  being  observed.  The 
both  it  and  the  sky.  I  was 

electric  candles  were  some  white  and 

amazed.  I  remember  I  shrank 

some  a  sort  of  highway  brownish  yellow. 

in  my  own  estimation.  Before 

I  nearly  froze,  I  collected  all 

my  traps,  no  fish.  I  made  a 

What  we  do,  we  do  without  purpose. 

mental  note  not  to  go  ice-fishing 
We  are  simply  invited 

again  without  a  bottle  of  cognac. 
to  do  it,  by  someone  else 

On  the  other  hand,  there  are  certain 

or  by  ourselves.  And  so  we  do  this  or  that. 

things  I  am  taught  ( and  I  do  want 

The  day  before  yesterday  towards  the 

to  learn  them ) ;  for  instance :  if 

middle  of  the  afternoon  I  noticed 

I  will  remember  not  just  to  touch 


I  was  running  out  of  matches. 

wood  but  to  rub  my  hand  on 

I  went  through  pockets,  under 

it  before  I  touch  metal,  then  I 

papers  on  tables  and  finally 

won't  get  a  shock.  I  had  pre- 

found  a  single  match.  Having 

viously  thought  that  if  I  picked 
lit  a  cigarette,  I  decided  to 


We  are  not  doing  very  much 

up  my  feet  as  I  walked 

keep  one  lit  constantly  whether 


of  any  one  thing.  We  are  continually 

across  the  carpet  or  if  I  even 
J  was  smoking  or  not.  Oppressed 


dropping  one  thing  and  picking 

hopped  through  the  room 

by  this  obligation,  I  went  down- 

up  another.  We  are,  you  might 

before  turning  a  doorknob  or 

stairs  to  the  kitchen,  found 


say,  concentrated  inside  and  idiotic  out. 

a  light  switch  that  I 

nothing,  but  picked  up  an 

wouldn't  get  a  shock.  That 
article  by  the  man  at  the 

doesn't  work.  The  wood-rubbing 

other  end  of  the  hall  that  happened 

does  work.  The  crux  of  the 

to  catch  my  eye.  I  read  it, 

matter  is:  will  I  remember 

cooked  dinner,  went  on  working, 

to  rub  wood  first  and,  even 

and  managed  through  all  of  this 

WHERE    ARE    WE    GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING7/209 

so,  just  in  case  I  sometime 

to  light  another  cigarette  foe- 

find  myself  in  a  situation 

fore  the  burning  one  burned  out. 

where  there  isn't  any  wood 

I  determined  to  go  to  the  movies 

to  rub,  shouldn't  I  just 

in  order  to  get  some  matches. 

decide,  here  and  now,  no 

However,  in  the  car,  I  found 

matter  where  I  go,  to  carry 

some  partly  used  folders  of  them 

a  piece  of  wood  with  me? 

and  just  went  to  the  movies  uselessly. 


Although  we  speak  about  going, 

The  next  afternoon,  the  secretary 

I  notice  that  we  spend  a  lot 

came  in  and  asked  for  a 

of  time  waiting;  that  is,  I  wait. 
match.  I  still  had  a  few 

And  when  I  tell  others  about  it, 

left  from  those  I'd  found  in  the 


He  was  afraid  all  along  that  he 

they  say  they  wait  too. 
car.  I  realized  the  situation 


might  lose  his  mind.  He  had  no 

was  growing  ticklish.  I  left  and 

fear  of  the  cancer  which  killed  him. 

with  the  single  purpose  of  getting 

He  gave  rise  to  two  schools,  and  repudiated 

matches.  I  came  back  with  an 

them  both.  That  is  partly  true.  We  are 

Talking  about  death,  we  began 

artichoke,  a  sweet  potato,  an  onion 

not  just  going:  we  are  being  swept  away. 

laughing.  There  had  even  been  an 

I  didn't  need  (for  I  already 

How  was  it  she  managed  to  teach  me 

attempted  suicide.  Which  are 

had  one),  three  limes,  two  per- 

that  the  play  of  her  emotions  needn't  involve 

you  supposed  to  read:  the 

simmons,  six  cans  of  ale,  a  box 
me?  Christmas  is  here  and  then 

article  or  the  advertisements? 

of  cranberries  and  an  orange,  eggs, 
shortly  we'll  be  filling  out  the  income  tax. 

I  felt  so  miserable  I  went  to 

milk,  and  cream,  and  fortunately 

I  remembered  the  matches.  That 

gotten  up.  I  decided  to 

evening  the  possibility  of  lighting 

cancel  everything.  Instead 

a  cigarette  on  an  electric  stove 

I  went  out  in  the  woods  and 

was  mentioned,  an  action 

revived.  Going  into  the  unknown 

with  which  I  am  fully  familiar. 

You  remember  the  seeds?  Well,  today, 

we  have  no  use  for  value 

It  is  fairly  clear  that  we  have 
it  was  rubber  bands  (not  flying 

judgments.  We  are  only  greedy: 

changed  our  direction,  but  it 
through  the  air,  but  littering  the 
There  are  those  who  go  part  way 

we  want  more  and  more  while 
sleep  even  though  I'd  just  is  not  so  clear  when  we 

WHERE    ARE    WE    GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING7/211 

sidewalk).  It  would  be  so  much 
but  can't  go  any  farther.  And 

there's  still  time.  We're  getting 
did  it.  Was  it  in  1913  when 
simpler  if  we  were  expressing 

there  is  a  great  interest  in  going 

around  to  the  usefulness  of  science 

Duchamp  wrote  his  piece  of  music? 
ourselves.  In  that  case  all  you'd 
and  staying  at  the  same  time: 

( I  don't  mean  probability )  ( I  mean 

And  since  he  didn't  tell  us,  how 
need  for  an  understanding  of 
naturally  not  in  the  physical 

seeing  things  just  as  they  are  in 

did  we  know?  Is  what  we're 
what  we're  doing  would  be  a 
world,  but  in  the  world  of  art. 

their  state  of  chaos ) '.  And  so,  if 
doing  in  the  air  or  on  the  land? 
large  collection  of  city  directories. 
These  people  want  somehow  to 

you  were  writing  a  song,  would 
When  did  competition  cease? 


keep  alive  the  traditions  and 

you  write  music,  or  would  you 
Looking  back,  it  all  seems  to 



yet  push  them  forward.  It  gets 

write  for  a  singer?  "I  can't  even 

have  been  done  the  way  we  are 


rather  superhuman  as  a 

try,"  she  said,  "I  can't  whistle." 

doing  it.  Even  the  old  bridges. 


project.  The  others  don't  care 

so  much  about  tradition,  but  hang  on  anyway. 

We  sometimes  leave  before  we  said 

we  would,  and  then  by  things  beyond 

our  control  arrive  ahead  of  time.  We 

then  imagine  that  it  will  be  the  same 

coming  back,  and  it  is.  They  were  in 

Why  didn't  I  bring  my  boots?  I 

an  automobile  together  on  the  way  to 

have  several  pairs  but  I  left 

Oxford.  It  is  remarkable  what  we  are 

them  all  where  they  are.  I  could 

WHERE    ARE    WE    GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING7/213 

doing:  even  though  we  give  the  appearance  of 
say  that  I  knew  where  I  was 

idiots,  we  are  clearing  things  up  considerably. 
going  but  didn't  know  what  it 

Both  the  turnips  and  the  sweet  potatoes 
would  be  like  when  I  got  there. 

appeared  to  have  been  left  to  rot. 

I  would  have  brought  some  boots 

One  of  the  noticeable  things  about  our 
So  I  took  some  of  each  without 


had  I  thought  there  was  a  chance 

going  is  that  we're  all  going 
asking.  It  turned  out  I  should  have 


of  going  mushrooming.  I  did 

in  different  directions.  That's 

asked  whether  or  not  I  might  have  the 


bring  the  basket  in  which  I  often 

because  there's  plenty  of  room. 

turnips.  No  question  of  will  you  or 


throw  the  boots,  but  this  time 

We're  not  confined  to  a  path 

won't  you:  we  are  inevitably  going. 


the  boots  are  where  they  are;  and 
and  so  we  don't  have  to  follow 

yet  I  could  have  put  them  to 

in  someone's  footsteps  even  though 

use.  Often  the  reverse  situation 

that's  what  we're  taught  to  do.  We 

arises:  we  get  into  a  position 

can  go  anywhere,  and  if  we 

with  our  art  where  we  have 

can't,  we  concentrate  on  finding 

a  need  for  something  which 
a  way  to  get  exactly  there 

we  have  never  had  and  of 

( if  we  know  where  there  is ) . 

the  existence  of  which  we  have 

There's  so  much  to  do,  it's  a 

no  knowledge.  We  then  go  to 

waste  of  time  to  run  around 

a  store  that  might  carry 

the  house  writing  twelve-tone 

such  things  and  discover  to 

music.  And  that's  the  only  musical 

our  delight  that  the  tool  was 
way  to  go  now  if  one's  going 


We  go  foolishly  where  angels  fear 
just  invented  and  is  in  stock. 

to  go  in  the  same  direction 


to  tread  (which  is  not  to  say  that 
That  was  more  or  less  what 

others  go.  That  was  Schoenberg's  business. 


we  do  not  tremble)  and  in  our 
happened  to  the  field  of  music 

foolishness,  we  make  connections 

eleven  or  twelve  years  ago. 

where  there  had  been  separateness. 
And  that  concomitant  going 

We  take  things  that  were  together 

makes  us  sometimes  say  that 

and  pull  them  apart.  We  remove 
things  are  in  the  air.  Or 

the  glue  but  build  invisible  bridges. 

the  Lord  is  working  or  some 

For  the  field  is  not  not  a  field 

such  statement.  The  less  we 

WHERE    ARE    WE    GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING7/215 

Had  a  musician  to  choose  between 


of  music,  and  the  acceptance  is 

hold  onto  our  going,  the  more 

death,  deafness,  and  blindness, 


not  just  of  the  sounds  that 

this  mysterious  stream  of  gifts 

which  would  he  choose? 


had  been  considered  useless,  ugly, 
surrounds  us  or  comes  our 

Death's  inevitable,  does  not 


and  wrong,  but  it  is  a  field 

way.  Say  then  that  we  are 

sting,  and  time  shows  it's  good 


of  human  awareness,  and  the 
generally  active  but  not  specifically 

for  music.  Blindness  would  cer- 


acceptance  ultimately  is 

doing  just  this  but  able  to  employ 

tainly  sharpen  his  sense  of 

Say  I've  accepted  two  invitations  and  they're 

of  oneself  as  present  mysterious- 

for  no  purpose  whatever  comes  our  way. 

hearing.  Deafness  . . .  well . . . 
21  6/SILENCE 

both  for  the  same  time.  In  certain 
ly,  impermanently,  on 

Beethoven.  The  lake  up  above 

cases,,  I  could  speed  up,  as  it  were,  and 
this  limitless  occasion. 

where  we  live  used  to  be  a  town. 

accept  both,  spending  less  time  with 

When  the  people  who  lived  there 

each.  In  another  case,  it  would  be 

were  told  to  leave  because  the 

physically  impossible  to  go  to  both,  in  which 

waters  were  being  let  in,  they, 

case  a  choice  would  have  to  be  made. 

Shall  I  give  up  mushrooms  and 

most  of  them,  did  leave.  A  few 

One  obligation  is  then  dropped  and  every- 
study  the  trees?  By  all  means.  They 
We  are  inclined  to  think  that 

insisted  on  staying  and  had 

thing  goes  smoothly.  How,  however, 

go  together  almost  alarmingly 

things  are  done  better  when  they're 

to  be  rescued  from  the  roofs 

do  we  regain  the  sense  of  duty?  I  told 
clearly.  What  dogged  determination 
done  the  first  time.  That,  for 

of  their  homes  by  policemen 

her  several  times  Yd  bring  her  mush- 
made  my  mind  shuttle  back  and 
instance,  as  we  go  on  doing 

in  rowboats.  On  the  north 

rooms;  why  is  it  I  never  have? 
forth  on  one  track?  We  only 
the  same  thing,  it  gets  worse 

side  of  this  lake  there  were  here 

make  choices  when  it's  absolutely 

rather  than  better.  So  many 

and  there  grapevines,  not  wild, 

necessary.  If  we  have  something 

things  in  history  exemplify 

but  wildly  growing,  excellent  for 

to  do,  we  don't  question  whether 

this  deterioration  in  going. 

jelly.  One  year  I  made,  if  I 

it  is  worth  while;  we  just  do  it. 


However,  when  our  eyes  get 
do  say  so,  good  grape  jelly 


The  reason  we  waste  our  time  so 
used  to  the  dark,  we  see  that 

from  those  grapes.  Next  year 

willingly  is  that  our  ideas  about 
it's  not  so  bad  after  all. 

I  gathered  a  greater  quantity 


usefulness  were  so  limited. 

We  enjoy  hearing  about  night- 

although  I  was  told  by  an 

When  someone  with  his  nose  to  the 
mares  but  we  feel  we  are 

inspector  that  it  was  against 


grindstone  tells  us  we  needn't  bother 

going  along  in  sunlight  doing 

regulations.  Anyway,  while  cooking, 

to  do  such  and  such,  we  get  the 
the  things  we  do.  He  said, 

I  got  something  else  on  my 

We  will  not  go  unless  we  have  no  alter- 
impression  that's  something  might 
when  I  explained  that  formerly 

GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING?/217 

mind  and  the  jelly  burned — 

native.  They  were  the  wrong  ages  and  related. 
interest  us.  We  study  how  not  to 
I  had  to  keep  my  house  and 

not  with  the  sugar  in  it 

The  doctor  who  gave  the  adjustment  butchered 
stick  to  our  work.  Of  course,  if 
desk  in  order  and  that  my 

but  before,  when  I  was 

the  deer.  It  was  an  invention?  The 
we  have  too  much  to  do, 
first  work  each  day  consisted 

expressing  the  juice.  Now,  of 

telegram  arrived  but  never  departed. 
studying  being  interrupted,  we  try  first 

in  copying  over  neatly  the 

course,  all  the  vines  are  gone. 

The  picture  on  the  front  page  has  no  caption. 
to  do  everything,  and  if  we 
work  of  the  previous  day— 

They're  putting  in  a  parking 


can't,  then,  as  a  last  resort, 

he  said,  "That's  the  way  I  do 

lot  and  a  beach  for  swimming 

He  told  me  about  the  seeds  that  whirl 
we  choose,  not  so  much  what 
it  now."  But  I  made  a 

21  8/SILENCE 

so  that  two  thousand  people  can 

and  showed  me  one;  I  think  he 
we'll  do  as,  regretfully,  what 

sweeping  gesture  around 

swim  at  once.  We  do  not 

said  they  were  from  the  tulip  tree— 
we  wont.  But  this  choice  is 
the  room  suggesting  the 

determine  where  we  go  by 

and  in  the  wind,  he  said,  they  go  great 
not  made  on  any  basis  such 
embrace  of  the  chaos  that  one 

where  we'd  like  to  go.  We  are 

distances.  I  looked  out  the  window 
as  "What  would  please  us  the  most?" 
could  see  there.  The  house- 
too  aware  of  everywhere. 
just  now.  They  suggest  an  innovation  in  toys. 
There  again,  what  we  find  most 
keeper  does  nothing  about 

That  is,  woods,  for  instance, 


pleasing  is  that  our  tastes  are 
it  because  he  is  instructed 

any  woods  will  do  for  my 


not  limited  the  way  they  were. 

not  to  touch  any  papers. 

wandering  in  them,  and 

They're  getting  catholic,  we  might 

There  are  advantages  and 

nothing  could  be  more 


say.  Naturally,  we  don't  want 
disadvantages.  It  takes  time 

frustrating  than  our  necessary 


to  kill  ourselves.  At  the  same 

to  find  something  you're 

long  trips  that  take  us  quickly 


time,  we  realize  we're  on  a  sinking 

thinking  of,  but  in  the  course 

over  large  territories,  each 


ship.  We  come  up  with  a  version 
of  looking  for  it  all  sorts  of 

square  foot  of  which  would 


of  the  Golden  Rule,  but  we're  not 

things  come  up  that  one  was 

be  suitable  for  exploration. 


certain  how  we'd  like  to  he  done 

not  looking  for.  You  might 

Need  I  say?— Not  only  woods,  but 

by.  We  suspect,  rather  we  know, 

call  living  in  chaos  an 

sounds,  people,  hook-ups,  protests. 


there  are  pleasures  beyond  our 

exteriorization  of  the  mind. 

cautious  past  experience.  If  they 

It  is  as  though  the  things  in 

say,  for  instance,  "That  music  hurt 

the  room,  in  the  world,  in  the 

my  ears"  we  immediately  think  it 

woods,  were  the  means  of  thinking. 

WHERE    ARE    WE    GOI 

probably  didn't,  that  what  were  hurt 

In  a  grand  sense,  I  do  what  you 

were  mental  attitudes  and  feelings,  and  these 

do  and  you  do  what  I  do. 

make  us  rampant.  Traffic  continues. 
NG?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING7/219 

Thus  it  is  economical  for  each 

one  of  us  to  be  original.  We  get 

more  done  by  not  doing  what 

someone  else  is  doing.  This 

way  we  can  speed  up  history — 


Originally  we  had  in  mind  what 
the  one  we're  making.  No  need 


you  might  call  an  imaginary 
for  competition,  even  with 

beauty,  a  process  of  basic 

oneself.  After  all,  we're  all 

emptiness  with  just  a  few 

the  same  species  and  we  live  on  the 

things  arising  in  it.  What  we 

same  planet.  And  I  am  not  who  I  was. 

had  there  in  mind  was  not 

We  are  trying  to  go  fast  enough 
so  much  ours  (but  we  thought 

to  catch  up  with  ourselves.  This 
it  was )  as  it  was  something 

We  were  artisans;  now  we're 

helps  to  keep  us  ignorant  of 


like  those  Japanese  gardens 

the  observers  of  miracle.  All  you 

knowing  where  we  are  going. 


with  a  few  stones  in  them. 

have  to  do  is  go  straight  on, 

Things  come  in  and  we  send 


And  then  when  we  actually 

leaving  the  path  at  any  moment, 

answers.  By  slow  and  fast  mail, 


set  to  work,  a  kind  of 

and  to  the  right  or  to  the  left, 

telegram,  and  telephone.  Now  and 


avalanche  came  about  which 

coming  back  or  never,  coming 

then  we  appear  in  person  to  one 


corresponded  not  at  all 

in,  of  course,  out  of  the  rain. 

another.  An  announcement  arrived. 


with  that  beauty  which  had 

There  she  was  with  her  back  to  me  painting 
seemed  to  appear  to  us  as  an 

with  a  stick  as  long  as  that  of  a  broom. 
objective.  Where  do  we  go 

then?  Do  we  turn  around? 

Go  back  to  the  beginning  and 

change  everything?  Or  do 

we  continue  and  give  up 

what  had  seemed  to  be 

where  we  were  going?  Well, 

Those  signs  that  are  misplaced— 
what  we  do  is  go  straight 

the  ones  on  the  street  over  to  the 
WHERE    ARE    WE    GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING7/221 

on;  that  way  lies,  no  doubt, 

left— the  one-way  street  (there 
a  revelation.  I  had  no  idea 

are  two  signs,  each  saying  "One  way," 
this  was  going  to  happen.  I 

and  they  point  towards  one 
did  have  an  idea  something 

another— that  is,  they  are  at  cross 
else  would  happen.  Ideas 

purposes):  were  they  misplaced  by 
are  one  thing  and  what 

children?  and  is  that  what  was 
happens  another.  At  this 

meant  by  the  Scripture,  that  we  would 

point  again  space  between 

be  led  by  children?  I  asked 
things  is  useful.  But  we 

the  man  at  the  toll  booth 
are  not  going  into  retirement. 

what  would  be  my  best  bet: 
If  we  are  islands,  we  are 

he  said  just  go  straight  ahead. 
glass  ones  with  no  blinds 

I  noted  that  the  road  shortly 
but  plenty  of  old  shoes 

became  very  confusing.  He  said, 
lying  around.  Also  these 

"Why  should  itF'  A  car  behind 
islands  are  not  cubes  but 

made  me  proceed  against  my 
are  spheres:  we  go  out 

better  judgment.  We  purposefully 
from  them  in  any  direction, 

The  weather's  changing.  We  are 

do  what  is  unnecessary.  And 


not  just  north,  east,  south, 

busy  doing  what  we  do.  We  take 

we  have  the  brass  to  say  that 


and  west.  Field  therefore  is 

time,  now  and  then,  not  to  see  what 

that  is  exactly  what  had  to  be 


not  explicit  as  a  term  of 

someone's  doing  but  what  he  did. 

done.  We  have  come  (or  are  we 
I  must  say  I  was  surprised 
description.  And  thus  a  piece 

We  see  that  to  look  at  an  object, 

still  going?)  (someone  wrote  that 
to  read  that  he  had  no  interest 
of  paper  also  falsifies  the 

a  work  of  art,  say,  we  have  to 
we've  touched  bottom— an  imper- 
in  food.  If  I  hadn't  been  told, 
situation.  One  way  or  another, 

see  it  as  something  happening, 

manent  bottom,  he  hastened  to  add,  but 

I  would  have  surmised  that  he 

we  are  obliged  to  be  able  to  go  in  all  directions. 

not  as  it  did  to  him  who  made  it, 
then  added  that  we  truly  have 
was  a  gourmet.  Not  at  all.  It 

but  as  it  does  while  we  see  it. 

touched  bottom  as  far  as  our 
appears  that  he  preferred  food  to 

We  don't  have  to  go  anywhere: 

knowledge  and  tools  are  concerned). 
be  the  same  (providing  he  found 

it  comes  to  us.  It's  a  bright 
As  I  was  saying:  we  have  come 
some  he  enjoyed),  the  same  each  day. 

sunny  day,  but  that  man's 

(or  are  we  still  going?)  to  a 

windshield-wipers  are  working. 
WHERE    ARE    WE    GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING?/223 

point  where  it  is  necessary  to 
We  who  speak  English  were  so 

It  looks  as  though  I  will  one  day 

speak  at  cross  purposes  with  what 
certain  of  our  language  and  that 

be  able  to  look  at  a  tree  and  speak  its 

we  are  saying.  It  is  because  what- 
we  could  use  it  to  communicate 
We  are  still  going  and  we  are 

name,  and  if  that  happens,  going 

ever  we  were  saying  so  failed  to 
that  we  have  nearly  destroyed 
certain  that  we  will  never  get  there. 

along  with  it  will  be  a  change 

hit  the  mark.  Now  at  last  we  know  that 
its  potential  for  poetry.  The 
It  is  just  as  I  thought:  the 

of  attitude  towards  winter,  just 

saying  one  thing  requires  saying 
thing  in  it  that's  going  to  save 
children  are  out  playing  and 

as  fungi  have  given  me  a 

the  opposite  in  order  to  keep  the 
the  situation  is  the  high  percentage 
the  rest  of  us  are  running  the 

change  of  attitude  towards  rain.  Getting 

whole  statement  from  being  like 


of  consonants  and  the  natural  way 
danger  of  not  being  able  to 

rid  of  leaves  makes  trees  visible. 

a  Hollywood  set.  Perhaps  it  would 
in  which  they  produce  discontinuity. 
do  what  we  have  to  do.  And 

be  better  to  be  silent,  but  a)  someone 
so,  to  put  it  bluntly,  what 

else  would  be  speaking;  and  b)  it 
will  we  do  if  we  cannot 

wouldn't  keep  us  from  going  and  we 
go  on  with  what  we  are  doing? 

would  continue  doing  what  we 
I  congratulate  myself  that  I 

are  doing.  I  remember  once  his 
What  do  we  like?  We  do  not  like 

had  the  good  sense  to  put  the  car  in  a  garage. 

saying:  "But  this  opens  up 

to  be  pushed  around  emotionally  or  to 

an  entirely  untouched  field 

have  impressive  constructions  of  re- 

of  poetry."  And  to  this  day 
lationships  push  us.  We  can 

neither  one  of  us  has  budged 
manage  to  do  something  with 

to  move  into  that  untouched 
such  situations  (if  we  have  to 

open  field.  I  put  it  away. 

be  present)  such  as  pinning  our 

Today  in  the  newspaper  they 
attention  to  some  natural  event 

bring  up  the  subject,  but  con- 
which  is  either  in  the  work 

tinue:  "Persons  who  threaten  to 
or  ambient  to  it  but  irrelevant 

take  their  lives  and  are  picked 
to  its  intention.  I  was  asked  about 

up  by  the  police  here  will 

the  music  for  the  Candlelight  Concert 

not  be  jailed  any  more,  but 
and  I  remarked  that  it  would 

will  be  taken  to  the  hospital  instead.' 
be  a  pleasure  to  hear  the 

motets  and  the  Christmas  carols 

but  that  excerpts  from  the 

WHERE    ARE    WE    GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING?/225 

oratorio  were  too  much.  The 

reply  was,  "But  don't  you  enjoy 

being  moved?'  (I  enjoy  being 

interrupted  but  not  pushed.) 

Other  people  came  and  some  left 

Dropping  everything  and  going  is  not 
and  in  the  conversation  my 

as  simple  as  it  sounds.  You  find 
answer  was  given  to  a  person 

you  forgot  to  go  through  your 

who  had  not  asked  the  question. 
pockets;  and  then  again  that  if 


I  quoted:  "The  purpose  of  music 

you  didn't  actually  take  something 
is  to  sober  and  quiet  the  mind, 

along,  that  something  stuck  to 
thus  making  it  susceptible  to  divine 

you  that  you  failed  to  notice. 
influences."  Shortly  three  of  us  left 

One  might  say,  "Well,  let  it,  since 
and  were  out  in  the  sharp 

everything  goes  and  there  is  no 

We  are  doing  only  what  is  necessary. 
clear  winter  night.  We  walked 

question  of  value,  etc."  But 

Once  when  I  thought  I  was  going  east,  I 

along  and  then  into  the  apartment 

here  is  a  rub:  that  is  only 

went  west.  Do  I  assume  the  microscope  will  be 
(not  the  air-conditioned  one)  and 

the  case  when  somehow  you've 

ruined?  Poison  ivy  this  time  but  not  the  other. 
I  asked  whether  they  had  music 

managed  to  drop  everything.  Do 

The  appointment  is  for  9:00  A.M.  Friday. 
in  their  Quaker  meetings  and  of 

we  do  it  and  then  go?  Are  our 
course  they  don't.  And  yet  his 

means  suitable  for  this  objective? 
ears  are  marvelously  open  when 

Examine  them  carefully  with  accuracy. 
we  walk  in  the  woods.  He  hears 

Repeat  the  examination  daily.  This 

brings  up  the  subject  of  anonymity. 


makes,  up  at  the  top  of  the 

I  was  absolutely  amazed  to  hear 

But  it  can  be  dropped.  Here  I  am. 

ridge  and  down  by  the  stream  and 
him  describing  to  me  the  beauties 

My  work  is  something  else. 


in  different  trees.  He  hears  them  all 

of  the  long  line  in  music,  and 

together  and  distinguishes  them.  He 

lamenting  its  absence  in  the 

told  me  about  the  suit  he  was  wear- 
pulverized,  fragmented  modern 

We  are  losing  our  sense  of  values 


ing,  a  hand-woven  tweed,  and  the 
music.  And  I  was  amazed 

and  we  are  getting  increased  awareness. 


difficulties  attached  to  finding  a 
too  that  when  the  nature 

the  different  sounds  the  wind 

WHERE    ARE    WE    GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING?/227 

We  are  giving  up  pride  and  shame  and 


tie  that  had  the  rust  color 

of  the  pulverization  was  pointed 

getting  interested  in  whatever  comes 


of  one  of  the  threads  in  the 

out,  that  he  continued  to 

our  way  or  to  which  we  get.  Who  knows? 

material.  His  daughter  sent 

say  something  was  missing, 

If,  after  thought,  I  come  to  the  con- 


him  a  tie  recently,  and  since 

namely  the  long  line. 

elusion  that  Cantherellus  umbonatus  grows 

she  has  a  fine  sense  of  color,  it 
( She  too  had  said,  "Give  me  a 

most  plentifully  where  there  is  not 

matches  perfectly,  but  the  suit 
line  and  I'll  be  able  to  hang 

only  the  hair-capped  moss  but  also 

is  wearing  out.  The  cleaner  in 

anything  on  it.")  But  the 


young  junipers,  dampness,  and  some 


fact  said  there  is  nothing  more 
other  one,  she  who  came 

sun,  how  do  you  explain  that  to- 

to  be  done  to  save  it.  Before  I  left, 

from  India,  was  grateful 

day  in  a  more  or  less  open  field 


they  brought  out  a  dress  from  Guatemala. 
for  silence.  She  could  see 

we  were  stepping  on  them?  To  be 

easily  the  possibility  of  the 

sure  there  was  moss,  but  it  was  a  sit- 

omission  of  a  constant 

uation  like  ones  in  which  I'd  only  met 

connective.  Nothing  needs 

with  failure.  While  we're  on  the  sub- 

to  be  connected  to  anything 

ject,  how  is  it  I  lost  interest  in  the 

else  since  they  are  not 

Greeks?  Now  they  interest  me 

separated  irrevocably  to  begin 

very  much.  It  seems  they  weren't 

with.  Past  appearances  are 

so  devoted  to  the  gods  after  all.  Tragedy? 

to  some  blinding  and  to  others 

clarifying.  Right  now  perhaps 

again  the  children  are  teaching 

We  are  going  into  the  field  of  frequency 
us.  They  have  no  conception  of 

a  long  line.  They  have  only 

leaving  the  notes  of  the  major  and  minor 
a  short  attention  span.  And 

scales  and  the  modes,  for  they  are 
the  mass  media— they  take  it 

in  the  field  we're  going  into.  The 
for  granted  that  we,  like 

same  holds  true  for  the  field  of 
children,  need  to  have  every- 

amplitude,  the  field  of  timbre,  the 
thing  constantly  changing.  I 

field  of  duration,  the  field  of  space. 


can  find  no  example  now 
Though  we  are  not  leaving  any- 

and  that  doesn't  mean  that  we  are 

WHERE    ARE    WE    GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING7/229 

in  our  consciousness  of 

thing,  our  notations  are  changing 
the  necessity  in  us  for  a  long 

and  sometimes  even  disappearing. 
line  outside  of  us.  ( She  called 

Usefulness  is  uppermost  in  our 
it  the  uncommitted  void. )  If 


minds.  We  begin  to  be  certain 
we  were  really  prepared  we  would 

that  we  never  were  where  we 


need  not  only  boots  but  roller 

thought  we  were,  that  not  only 
skates  too.  Then  we  could  visit 

were  mistakes  made  on  occasion, 


the  museums  with  the  long  halls 

noticeable  wrong  notes,  but  that  the 


lined  with  art.  Do  you  suppose 

whole  kit  and  caboodle  was  a  mis- 
that  eventually  they  will  clear 


take.  The  Cuban  boy  is  partly  German. 
everything  up?  Enough  so  that 

the  children  will  have  to  stop 

playing?  There  is  a  fear  too 

Our  sense  of  whether  or  not  we  did 

there  that  an  idea  which  is 

what  we  said  we  would  do  is  slipping. 

not  in  line  will  somehow 

What  will  we  do  now?  I  noticed,  magnificent 
cause  one  to  lose  the  thread. 

as  he  is,  that  he  can't  tell  where  he's  going. 
What  results  is  work  without 

interruption,  apologies  for 

absence  of  quality,  and  shortness 

of  quantity  and  complaints 

that  they  did  something  to 

it  which  was  not  part 

of  the  original  intention. 

We  will  change  direction  constantly. 

WHERE    ARE    WE    GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING7/231 

People  have  arrived  from  out  of  town. 

We  are  having  two  or  three  gatherings  at  once. 

It  was  before  dawn:  I  looked  out 

the  window  and  there  he  was 

walking  down  the  street  in  the  dark. 

It  turned  out  he  was  not  in  town  at 

all.  I  had  seen  someone  else.  We  celebrate. 

Between  1930  or  say  1929  and  1942 

We  don't  have  to  make  special  arrangements. 

I  moved  around  a  good  deal. 

I  got  the  impression  that  I 

never  stayed  any  place  more 

There  is  a  story  that  is  to  the 

than  a  year.  I  was  full  of 

point.  A  man  was  born  in 

purpose.  Ask  me  what  it  was 

Austria.  When  he  came  into 

and  I  couldn't  really  tell  you. 

his  inheritance,  he  gave  all 

Jobs.  Actually,  I  still  have 

his  money  away.  He  engaged 

the  same  goal  in  mind.  What 

in  a  wide  variety  of  activities 

I've  always  wanted  and  still  want 

one  after  the  other.  When 

is  a  Center  for  Experimental  Music. 

the  War  came  along,  he  went 

Perhaps,  some  day,  maybe  when  I 

into  it.  He  continued  his 

can  just  barely  whisper  in  accept- 

activity  during  the  War  and 

ance,  they'll  say,  "Why!  of  course 

even  his  correspondence.  Later 

you  can  have  it.  Here  it  is, 

he  moved  back  and  forth  between 

a  big,  beautiful  Center  for  Ex- 

more  or  less  the  same  countries 

perimental  Music,  replete  with 

and,  as  I  say  elsewhere,  he 

Festivals  of  Contemporary  Music 

started  at  different  times 

that'll  make  America  look  as 

different  schools  and  repudiated 

wide  awake  as  Europe.  Make 

both  of  them  which  is  only 

any  sounds  you  like:  loud-speakers, 

partly  true.  He  moved  around 

tape  machines;  that's  nothing, 

a  good  deal  and  even  came 

you  can  have  a  super  synthe- 
RE    ARE  ING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING7/233 

I  know  that  if  I  managed  to  tell  you 
to  America  and  then  he  went 

sizer.  What  more  do  you 

where  we  are  going,  it  wouldn't 


back;  he  had  been  at  one 

want?  You  can  have  it."  Well, 

interest  you,  and  it  shouldn't  except 


time  in  Ireland  and  he 

every  time  I  moved,  I  used  to 

as  conversation.  (But  I  am  going 


began  to  more  and  more 

look  through  my  papers,  letters, 

alone;  in  the  Martian  anal- 


include  it  in  the  places 

music,  and  so  forth,  and  I  threw  a- 

ysis  we  are  all  one  happy 


to  which  he  went  and  he 

way  whatever  I  thought  I  could 

family.)  I  mentioned  that  nothing 


included  Norway.  He  found 

just  to  lighten  the  travel.  That 

seemed  irrelevant  and  he  said,  "Yes, 


a  rare  mushroom  and  since 

way  I  threw  away  all  my 

we  see  more  and  more  connections" 


it  was  in  a  dry  season  he 

earliest  work.  There  used  to 

But  we  are  doing  something  else: 


built  a  protection  for  it 

be,  for  instance,  some  settings 

we  are  putting  separations  between 


and  provided  it  with  water. 

to  choruses  from  The  Persians  by 

each  thing  and  its  other.  And  why  is  it,  when 


Fulfilling  other  commitments 

Aeschylos  and  an  Allemande.  But 

we  have  no  silence,  they  say,  "Why  didn't  you?" 


and  yet  studying  the  growth 
before  that  there  were  some 

of  the  fungus,  he  involved 

short,  very  short,  pieces  composed 

himself  in  many  trips  of  250  miles 
by  means  of  mathematical  formulae. 

each.  Is  that  what  we  are  doing? 

What  do  you  think,  moving  off 

as  we  might,  all  of  us,  to  the 

moon,  might  we  not  all  of  us  look  through 

our  papers?  Father's  foot:  twice  he 

up  a  tree,  cutting  nearly  through  his 

we  do  right  now.  It  is  not 

wrist;  lately  in  a  back  yard  a 

in  the  nature  of  doing  to 

thorn  pierced  the  flesh  of  his  ankle. 


It  is  interesting  when  we  hear 
improve  but  rather  to  come 

It's  been  a  year  and  a  half  going  on  two  years. 

that  someone  has  traveled  to  a 

into  being,  to  continue,  to 

foreign  country,  one  he  was  never 

go  out  of  being  and  to 

went  out  to  pick  flowers  for  Mother 

in  before.  It  is  also  interesting 

be  still,  not  doing.  That 
We  will  never  have  a  better 

and  wounded  himself  seriously,  once 

when  we  hear  that  someone  has 

still  not-doing  is  a 

idea  of  what  we're  doing  than 

WHERE    ARE    WE    GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING7/235 

homes  in  various  places  all 
preparation.  It  is  not 

What  are  we  doing  about  technique? 


over  the  world.  And  if  we  hear 
just  static:  it  is  a  quiet 

We  can  use  it  or  leave  it  alone. 


that  someone  does  not  travel 
readiness  for  whatever  and 

We  can  remember  the  old  ones  and 


at  all,  or  very  little,  that  too  is  inter- 

the  multiplicities  are  already 

invent  new  ones.  If  you  are  o- 


esting.  We  heard  that  they  might  have 
there  in  the  making.  We  watch 

bliged  to  whistle  and  can't,  there 


gone  to  Finland  but  didn't;  that 

for  signs  and  accept  omens. 

remains  the  possibility  of  buying 


was  not  interesting.  We,  too, 

Everything  is  an  omen,  so 

a  whistle  which  you  can  surely 

have  not  gone  to  Finland,  and 

we  continue  doing  and  changing. 

blow.  We  are  not  bound  hand 

what  will  be  interesting  is  news 
Do  we  have,  if  not  ideas 

and  foot  even  if  we  were  never 

that  someone's  actually  gone  there. 

about  what  we're  doing, 

taught  to  sing  or  to  play  an  in- 


In  our  own  experience,  we  some- 

feelings  about  our  actions, 

strument.  We  can  be  silent  and 


times  have  the  impression  that 

what  we've  made?  We're 

so  forth.  In  fact,  technically  speaking, 


we  are  the  first  ones  to  ever 
losing  them  because  we're 

we  are  in  possession  of  a  vast 


be  in  a  particular  place,  but 

no  longer  making  objects 

repertoire  of  ways  of  producing 

we  do  not  trust  this  impression. 
but  processes  and  it  is  easy 

sound.  What  is  it  that  makes 


We  feel  it  rising  up  like  an 

to  see  that  we  are  not  separate 

anyone  say,  "I  can't"?  Busy  doing 


atmosphere  around  us  and  we 

from  processes  but  are  in  them, 

something  else?  Shall  we  then 


find  it  a  kind  of  hallucination 

so  that  our  feelings  are  not 

all  gather  at  the  River?  Stick 


which  does  not  let  us  see  clearly 

about  but  in  them.  Criticism 

together?  We  have  multiplied 

where  we  are.  If  we  want  to  go 
vanishes.  Awareness  and  use 

ourselves  geometrically  and  our 


where  no  one  else  has  ever  gone 
and  curiosity  enter  into 

inclination  is  to  be  alone  when- 

(and  still  not  go  out  into  space), 


making  our  consciousness.  We 

ever  possible,  except  when  loneliness 

we  will  have  two  good  bets: 

are  glad  to  see  that  we  are 

sets  in.  Sixty  people  all  singing 


areas  environmental  to  highly 

noticing  what  happens.  Asked 

in  chorus  like  angels  only  make 


attractive  points  which  are 

what  happened,  we  have  to 

us  pray  that  once  in  Heaven, 

exceedingly  difficult  to  get  to, 

say  we  don't  know,  or  we 

God  lets  us  anarchistic  be!  Why 

and  areas  which  are  unattractive, 

could  say  we  see  more 

did  we  go  in  our  arts  to  order  and 

period.  It  is  these  latter  that  are 

clearly  but  we  can't  tell  you  what  we  see. 

many  people  doing  the  same  thing 

so  useful:  a)  because  they  re  all 
GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING7/237 

together,  when,  given  an  opportunity 
around  us  (Americans);  b)  because  we  can 

for  a  vacation,  we  look  for  a  spot 
actually  go  to  them  instead  of  just 

where  we  know  ( statistically )  no 
talking  about  going  (as  we  might 

one  we  know  will  be?  We  go 
have  to  do  in  the  other  case); 

into  a  crowd  with  a  sharp 

c)  because  the  experience  erodes  our 

awareness  of  the  idiosyncrasies 
preconceptions  about  what  attracts 

of  each  person  in  it,  even  if 

us.  Nevertheless  we  would  still  like 

they're  marching,  and  we  along 

to  have  a  Center  for  Experimental  Music. 

with  them.  We  see,  to  put  it 

We  can  tell  very  easily  whether 

coldly,  differences  between  two  things 

something  we're  doing  is  con- 

that  are  the  same.  This  enables 

temporarily  necessary.  The  way 

us  to  go  anywhere  alone  or  with 

we  do  it  is  this:  if  something 

others  and  any  ordinarily  too 

else  happens  that  ordinarily  would 
Will  we  ever  again  really  bother 

large  number  of  others.  We  could 

be  thought  to  interrupt  it 

to  describe  in  words  or  notation 

take  a  vacation  in  a  hotel  on 


doesn't  alter  it,  then  it's  work- 
the  details  of  something  that 

Times  Square.  But  what  we  do 

ing  the  way  it  now  must.  This  state- 
has  not  then  yet  happened?  Many 

see  is  that  we  have  to  give  up 

ment  is  in  line  and  can  be  illustrated 
will  do  this  and  the  changes  in  sol- 

our  ideas  about  where  we  are 

by  former  statements  I  have 
fege  that  will  soon  take  place  in 

going  since  if  we  don't,  we 

made  about  painting  and  music 
the  schools  are  alarming  just  to 

won't  get  anywhere.  If  you'd 

but  here  extend  to  doing:  that 
imagine.  There  will  be  an 

asked  me  a  few  years  ago 

is  (about  painting):  if  the 
increase  in  the  amount  of  time 

or  even  just  last  year  whether 

work  is  not  destroyed  by 

we  spend  waiting — waiting  for 

I'd  like  to  live  in  an  air- 

shadows;  and  (about  music): 
machines  to  do  what  we  planned 

conditioned  suite  where  I 

if  the  work  is  not  destroyed 

for  them  to  do,  and  then  discovering 

wouldn't  be  able  to  open  the 

by  ambient  sounds.  And  so 
a  mistake  was  made  or  the 

windows,  I  would  have  given  you  a  flat  No. 

the  doing  not  destroyed  by 
circuits  were  out,  and  finally 

simultaneous  simisituated 

getting  an  acceptable  approximation. 

action.  It  must  then  have  no 
This  is  not  unrelated  to  thinking 

objective,  no  goal.  Time  must  be  of 
the  recording,  say,  of  the  sound 

WHERE    ARE    WE    GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING7/239 

little— I  was  going  to  say 
of  a  gong  is  the  sound 

no— consequence.  (I  pray  one 

of  the  gong  when  it  isnt  recorded. 

day  I  may.)  But  other 

It  is  at  this  crossroads  that 

prayers  would  be:  Dear  Lord, 
we  must  change  direction,  if, 

let  me  not  run  out  of  ink 

that  is,  we  are  going  where  we 

(I  have  committed  myself  to 
are  going.  (I  know  perfectly 

quantity);  and  Dear  Lord,  do 
well  I'm  wandering  but  I  try  to 

If  we  really  did  change,  we  wouldn't 

let  me  catch  up,  otherwise 
see  what  there  is  to  see  and 

have  to  bother  about  practicing.  Of 

I  will  have  to  become  not 
my  eyes  are  not  as  good  as 

course,  we'd  gradually  slip  out  of  doing 

contemporary  (in  my  terms) 
they  were  but  they're  improving.) 

all  the  things  we  practiced.  And  then  when 

but  ancient  (in  my  terms) 
We  make  then  what  we  do 

we  started  going,  it  would  be  in  a 

working  like  a  monk  in 
virtually  unnoticeable,  so  that 

state  of  not  knowing.  We  would  be 

a  tower  with  a  princess 
you  could  even  have  missed 

as  interested  as  anybody  else.  Have 

of  his  own  imagination. 

the  point  of  its  beginning  and 


painters  always  been  looking? 

I  refuse  art  if  that  is  what 

not  be  certain  about  the  events 

Musicians,  mirabile  dictu,  are  just 

it  is  but  unless  I  am  cautious 

(whether  they  were  "in"  or  "out"  of  it)  to 

beginning  to  listen.  ( It  was  some- 

that  is  precisely  what  it  will 

say  nothing  of  its  ending.  Nothing 

thing  else  to  say  it's  a  good  thing  the 
become  (mine,  I  mean:  He  came 
special.  Nothing  predetermined.  Just 

children,  aged  five  and  seven,  are  being 

in  and  warned  me;  and  then 
something  useful  to  set  the 
I  have  just  ascertained  that 

taught  solf ege. )  Are  we  on  foot 

another  and  thanked  me  for 

thing  going.  We  could  say  to 

the  clock  is  twenty-five  minutes  fast. 

or  in  the  air?  That's  an  important 

Mallarme  and  job;  and  then 
ourselves:  "Beware  of  setting 
That  means  that  I  still  have 

question  when  it's  a  question  of 

I  sneezed ) .  I  am  not  obliged 
out  in  search  of  something 
time,  probably  not  enough  to 

going.  By  what  bleak  chain 

to  tell  you  all  of  this:  I  am 
interesting";  and,  "Beware  of  doing 
finish  what  I'm  doing  but 

of  events  did  we  exchange  the 

obliged  to  speak  to  you  and 

special  things  to  make  two 

time.  It  is  extremely  unpredictable 

chain  store  for  the  market  place? 

that  is  what  we  (you  and  I)  are 
things  more  different  than  they 
what  will  happen  next  and 

Conversation,  the  food  itself,  these  and 

doing.  And  now  I've  just  heard 
are";  "Beware  in  fact  of  the 
that,  of  course,  is  largely 

how  much  else  down  the  drain? 

about  Marchetti.  They've  made 
tendency  to  stop  and  start."  "But 
due  to  the  weather.  We  made 

a  mistake.  I  do  hope  it  isn't 

we  must  have  something  to  do!" 

our  arrangements  very  early 

a  mistake.  Hidalgo's  gone  to 

WHERE    ARE    WE    GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING7/241 

in  advance  and  they  even 
Paris  and  Marchetti's  gone  to 


include  dinner  ( I  have  no 
Milan  and  Spain  is  left  without 


idea  what  we'll  eat  or 

anyone.  What  we  need  now  is  not 
indeed  whether  I'll  get  there 

disarmament  and  people  marching  in 
and  whether  the  plans  still 

the  streets  but  someone,  someone 
hold  and  whether  if  they  do 

active  active  in  Spain  interested 
hold  I'll  be  able  to  get  every- 

in  modern  art.  Why  do  they  all 

thing  done  that  I  have  in 

leave  it?  What  is  wrong  with  Spain? 

mind  to  do.  This  is  our 

immediate  and  permanent 

condition  and  we  just  fail 

continually  to  notice  it  even 

when  we  think  we  agree. 

If,  for  instance,  as  may  well 

What's  doing?  (Never  a  dull  moment.) 

have  been  the  case,  if  someone 

It's  snowing.  It  began  in  the  night. 
procrastinated,  then  what? 


The  roofs  and  eaves  of  the  houses 
The  obstacles  I  foresee  to  the 

are  white  and  the  natural 
fulfillment  of  my  obligation 

tendency  of  the  ends  of  the 
which  is  what  we  are  doing 

branches  of  the  hemlocks  to 
are  only  a  few.  Why  don't 

droop  has  been  encouraged.  The 
I  see  the  others?  Don't  I 

traffic  continues  more  or  less  as 
have  eyes  and  a  head  and 

doggedly  as  it  did  yesterday.  Are 


ears?  They  are  not  as  good 

What  we  need  are  machines  that  will 

people  the  way  "their  land  and  air 

as  they  were  and  also  the 

enable  us  to  do  all  the  things  we  could 

is"?  If  so,  should  they  not  have 


metabolism  and  perhaps  they're 

do  before  we  had  them  plus  all  the 

four  or  five  purposes  (instead  of  one) 


getting  worse.  We  are  now 

new  things  we  don't  yet  know  we 

and  let  those  interpenetrate  with 


told  well  be  able  to  get  so 

can  do.  Perhaps  you  would  say  we 

one  another  in  some  interesting 
So  often  we  think  that  something 
far  but  no  further  and  a 

are  going  mad.  We  are  certainly 

natural  way?  For  instance:  this 
needs  to  be  devious,  so  that  we 

day  ago  we  were  told  it  would 

aimless  or  you  might  say  that  is 
WHERE    ARE    WE    GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING7/243 

snow  is  not  a  proper  winter 
go  to  no  end  of  trouble  to  do 
be  impossible  to  go  in  that 

our  aim.  We  are  needlessly  finicky 

snow.  It  seems  more  like  the 
something  that  could  be  done 
direction  because  there  was  no 

when  it  comes  to  our  notice  that 

last  one  does  just  before  spring 
straightforwardly.  (In  this  particular 
money.  There  was  money  for 

somebody  else  did  it  before  we 

arrives.  But  the  caretaker  who 
case  I  am  obliged  to  do  four 
the  eyes  but  no  money  for 

did  it.  And  generally  speaking,  it 

swept  the  sidewalk  is  already 
times  as  much  work  as  I  would 
the  ears.  They're  going  to  do 

does  come  to  our  notice.  A  little 

thinking  of  the  ice  to  come. 

in  a  conventional  fulfillment  of  the 

it  anyway  and  just  let  the 

bit  of  the  scientific  attitude,  however, 

"Those  stones  are  mighty  slippery! 

same  duty.)  (Furthermore,  Tve  committed 

ears  go  along  with  the  eyes 

and  you  soon  see  that  what  was 

There'll  be  more  than  one  person 


myself  to  thoughts  about  relevancy 

in  a  kind  of  slapdash  way. 

just  done  was  not  at  all  what 

falls  down  this  winter!"  Bird 
and  irrelevancy  in  addition  to 
Where  is  their  sense  of  urgency? 

was  done  before  except  as  regards 

maddened  by  the  length  of  its 
stories  and  subjects  and  where 

the  general  situation.  There  was,  by 

own  winter.  But  now  (as  I 

are  we  going  and  what  are  we  doing.) 

way  of  example,  a  discontinuity  of 

say  elsewhere)  the  trees  are  changing 
I  thought,  for  instance,  when  I 

particles,  then  there  was  emptiness 

me— my  attitude  towards  winter 
first  saw  the  book  that  it  was 

( which  now  seems  like  a  melody ) . 

is  changing  because  of  the  way 
probably  out  of  print  even 

Just  now  there  was  raw  material.  Repetition? 

one  can  see  the  trees  in  the  winter. 
though  they  told  me  it  wasn't. 

What  I  assumed  took  place 
I  looked  for  it  in  bookstores 

Is  there  a  story  in  the  fact  that  we 

in  spring  has  already 

and  never  wrote  to  the  publisher. 

call  someone  to  discover  that  there 

taken  place:  the  buds  are 
Nor  did  I  ask  anyone  to  write 

is  no  answer?  And  would  you  say 

there  on  the  trees  already.  With 
for  me.  However,  when  I  met 

such  a  story  would  be  relevant 

our  eyes  and  our  ears,  we  do 
someone  who  lived  in  the  town 

or  irrelevant  to  our  subject:  Where 

more  by  doing  nothing  and  just 
where  the  book  is  published 

are  we  going?  Now  we  have  the 

giving  attention  to  the  natural 
I  asked  him  if  he'd  mind 

example  of  a  young  composer 

busyness.  Was  what  I  did 
going  to  the  publisher's  office 

going  into  the  army  at  a  point 

interrupted  by  what  happened? 
and  finding  out  whether  the 

in  his  life  when  going  seemed 

If  so,  it  was  not  contemporary 
book  was  available.  I  did  say, 

really  unfortunate.  And  yet  it 

doing.  And  equally,  it  works 
"Don't  take  the  trouble  until  you 

has  worked  out  extraordinarily 

equally  the  other  way:  Does 
hear  from  me."  Before  writing 

well:  a  great  deal  of  music 

what  I  do  interrupt  the 

to  this  person,  1  finally  wrote 

has  been  written,  lectures  given, 
changes  in  weather?  This  is 
directly  to  the  publisher  and 

WHERE    ARE    WE    GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING?/245 

and  article  written  and  perf  orm- 

a  corollary  to  Satie's  statement 
a  week  or  so  later  the  book 

ances,  live  and  broadcast,  given. 

about  the  necessity  for  a  music 
finally  arrived.  Now  the  question 

And  a  raise,  which  involved 

which  would  not  interrupt  the 
arises  (which  1  find  more  and 

carrying  a  gun  which  however 

sounds  of  knives  and  forks  and 
more  ridiculous,  because  the 

is  never  used  and  rarely,  for 

the  conversation  of  friends  at  table. 
answer  could  be  this  or  that  and 

that  reason,  requires  cleaning. 

Put  the  two  together  and  you 
it  could  be  refused  or  accepted 

He  had  done  what  he  could  to  keep 

have  an  American  Picnic. 

by  something  no  more  solid  than 

from  getting  in  it.  But  once  in, 

You  know  what  this  absence  of 
a  whim):  the  question  arises: 

going  along  as  usual  with 
boredom  does?  It  turns  each 
What  can  be  said  to  be 

changes,  very  interesting  changes. 

waking  hour  musical  just  as 
irrelevant  and  what  can  be 

We  are  going  in  such  a  way  that 

for  years  now  (on  the  street),  in 
said  to  be  relevant  and  what 

even  if  we  do  what  we  would 

the  woods,  wherever  (I  remember 
keeps  a  story  from  becoming  a 

if  we  liked  (as  though  entranced), 

pavement  waiting  for  a  bus),  each 
subject  and  indeed  vice  versa? 

our  activity  meets  with  alter- 

place  is  an  active  exhibition. 

ation.  It  is  entirely  possible  that  I 

cross  the  room  to  burst  a  balloon 

which  when  I  was  not  looking 

was  removed.  In  such  a  case, 

would  it  not  have  been  more 

realistic  of  me  to  have  gone 

across  the  room  with  nothing  in 
We  cannot  know  now 

mind  about  balloons  and  burst- 

whether  we  are  continuing  or 

WHERE    ARE    WE    GO 

ing  them?  ( They  will  tell  us 
whether  shortly  there's  going 

in  that  case  that  it  is  not 
to  be  an  interruption,  after 

music  but  some  kind  of  choreo- 
which  we  will  pick  up  where 

graphy. )  However,  it  is  music 
we  left  off.  We  have  a  way 

the  way  it's  apt  to  be  going. 

of  knowing  but  we  are  conscientious- 

We're  not  going  to  go  on  playing 
ly  not  using  it.  We  are 

games,  even  if  the  rules  are 
cultivating  disorder  in  ourselves. 

NG?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING7/247 

downright  fascinating.  We  re- 

Perhaps  this  seems  ridiculous 

quire  a  situation  more  like 

but  it  seems  sensible  when  we 

it  really  is — no  rules  at  all. 

see  that  the  order  we  cultivated 

Only  when  we  make  them 

was  also  of  our  own  making.  So 

"This  has  nothing  to  do  with  it," 

do  it  in  our  labs  do  crystals 


in  a  sense  we  are  simply  doing 

we  say,  but  it  is  descriptive 

win  our  games.  Do  they  then?  I  wonder. 


what  we  left  undone,  but  we 
of  what  we  are  doing  and  where 

are  not  extending  our  knowledge. 

we  are  going  that  we  doubt 


We  are  learning  to  say,  "I  dorit 
whether  we  could  verify  our 

know."  Another  way  to  say  is: 

statement.  We  know  perfectly 

"We  don't  need  a  release  because 

well  now  that  this  has 

we  are  in  release."  We  noticed 
something  very  much  to  do 

in  foreign  countries  a  vast 

with  everything  else.  That 

difference  between  occasions,  between 

that  seems  gray,  undifferentiated, 

strictness  and  freedom,  and  we 

inarticulate  to  us  only 

are  smoothing  out  that  difference 

repeats  what  nineteenth-century 

mostly  by  making  things  which 

criticism  had  to  say  for 

seem  to  be  boring.  ("They  are  not 

the  musics  of  India  and 

boring  but  very  interesting") 

China.  Everything  is  articulated. 

I  think  the  knowledge  as  it 

We  don't  have  to  do  it.  In  fact, 

gets  extended  (and  you  see  that 

the  sharpness  increases  as  we 

I  mean  information)  will  get 

lay  hands  off.  There  are 

into  books  that  will  be  read 

temptations  for  us  to  stop 

not  by  us  but  by  machines,  because 

what  we're  doing  and  make 

there  will  by  that  time  be  too  many. 

a  connection  that  will 

As  it  is  now,  there  is  only  one 

be  overwhelming.  Well,  perhaps 

secretary.  When  the  phone 

it  is.  I  haven't  seen  yet. 

rings,  she  has  to  run  down 
I've  seen  some.  But  I'm 

the  hall  to  discover  whether 

losing  my  ability  to  make 

so  and  so  is  in  or  out,  and 
/HERE    ARE  ING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING7/249 

connections  because  the  ones 

then  come  back  alone  or 

I  do  make  so  belittle  the 

accompanied  as  the  case  may 

natural  complexity.  Now 

be.  That  is  a  kind  of  inefficiency. 
and  then  I'll  file  things 

The  other  kind  is  connected  with 

away  ( there  is  a  file  and 

Another  thing  we're  doing  is 
the  fact  that  the  windows 
I  can  use  the  alphabet,  even 

leaving  the  things  that  are  in  us 
cannot  be  opened.  Perhaps  telephones 

though  the  secretary  only 

in  us.  We  are  leaving  our  emotions 

in  graduated  sizes  would  solve  the  problem. 

went  as  far  as  S  and  since 


where  they  are  in  each  one  of  us.  One  of 


she's  not  English-speaking 

ms  is  not  trying  to  put  his  emo- 
by  birth— that  is,  her  own 

tion  into  someone  else.  That  way 
alphabet  was  different  from 

you  "rouse  rabbles";  it  seems  on 
ours— she's  got  some  of 

the  surface  humane,  but  it 
the  letters  in  the  file  upside 

animalizes,  and  we're  not  doing 
down.  I  can  use  them,  though, 

it.  The  cool  other  thing  we 
right  side  up  or  upside  down. 

are  also  not  doing:  that  is, 
When  I  get  everything  put 

making  constructions  of  relation- 


away,  then  the  housekeeper 

ships  that  are  observed  by  us. 
can  come  in  and  dust. 

That  faculty  of  observing  relation- 
By  that  time  I  trust  the 

ships  we  are  also  leaving  in 
bulbs  will  have  started 

us,  not  putting  the  observation 


sprouting.  Now  they  are  in 

of  one  into  the  other  who,  it  goes 
the  dark  where  we  are.  Satie's 

without  saying,  see  things  from  his 


remark  to  the  tree  will  do  but 
own  point  of  view  which  is 


I  am  not  certain  any  one 

different  from  another's.  We 
of  us  remembers  it.  Something 

can  of  course  converse  (and  do) 


about  never  having  done  any 

and  we  can  say:  "Stand  where 
harm  or  any  good  either 

I  stand  and  look  over  there  and 


to  anyone.  It  was  while 

see  what  I  see."  This  is  called 
he  was  on  one  of  his  return 

lordly  entertainment,  but  we  do 
WHERE    ARE    WE    GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING?/251 

nocturnal  walks  home. 

Last  year  I  gave  a  concert  and  answered 

not  thereby  pull  ourselves  up 

questions  afterwards.  This  year  some- 

by  our  bootstraps  nor  do  we  see. 

one  said,  "I  was  present  at  your  lecture 

Thus  in  his  teaching,  he  makes 

and  hope  to  have  the  chance  sometime  to 

presents  silently,  and  it  is  only 

hear  your  music."  How  can  you  tell 

because  I  am  slow-witted  that, 

whether  someone's  going  or  staying? 

in  impatience,  he  gives  hints, 

If  he  says,  speaking  of  three  things, 

suggestions.  We  are  all 



"Put  this  in  the  foreground  and  the  others 

so  busy,  we  have  no  time  for 

in  the  background,"  you  know  he's 

one  another.  By  keeping  things 

staying.  If,  however,  he  says, 
in  that  are  in  and  letting  those 

"I  can't  find  any  place  to  divide 

things  that  are  out  stay  out,  a 

it;  in  fact,  I  don't  know  how  big 

paradox  takes  place:  it  becomes 

it  is  and  as  a  matter  of  fact  I'm 

a  simple  matter  to  make  an 

just  using  the  word  'it'  as  a 

identification  with  someone  or 

convenience  because  I  don't  know 

something.  But  this  is  virtually 

anything  about  it,"  you  know  he's  go- 

impossible  in  terms  of  ideas  and 

ing.  In  the  field  and  where  he 

feelings.  Purposeless  play  there  is  un- 

goes,  there  go  we.  There  are  times 

Bodhisattvic  and  only  leads  to  a  conflagra- 

when  I  get  out  of  the  house 

tion,  a  more  or  less  catastrophic 
That  he  enjoyed  going  to  the 

with  the  jacket  on  that  belongs 

social  situation,  public  or 

movies  is  interesting.  (She  doesn't.) 

to  the  pants  that  are  still  hanging  in  the  closet. 

private,  that  has  brought  down 
And  that  he  liked  to  sit  in  the 

on  our  heads  the  arm  of  the 
front  row,  which  gave  him  the 

law  (it  was  such  employment 
feeling  of  a  shower  bath.  Our 

of  feelings  and  ideas  letting 
family  doctor  brought  himself  back 

them  go  out  that  brings  about 
from  blindness  by  sitting  in  the 

naturally  the  consequence  of 
front  row  at  movies  (together 

police  and  don't  do  this  and  the 
with  staring  at  the  sun). 

entire  web  of  rules).  But  what 
Some  people  are  coming  out 

WHERE    ARE    WE    GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING?/253 

we  are  doing  is  in  our  ways  of  art 
of  church  and  others  are  on  their 

to  breathe  again  in  our  lives  anarchistically. 
way  in.  Apparently  it's  continuous. 


When  they  wanted  to  photograph 

her,  they  asked  her  what  she  could 

do.  She  said  she  could  put  on 

can  do  is  this  or  that  at  the 

drop  of  a  hat.  Actually  what 

we  do  is  drop  one  hat  and  pick 

up  another.  It  is  as  though 

we  were  painting  on  silk 

and  could  not  erase.  And 

yet  erasing  quite  completely 
her  hat  or  take  it  off.  What  we 

WHERE    ARE    WE    GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING7/255 

is  one  of  the  easiest  things  now 

for  us  to  do.  Are  we  then 

It  is  not  a  question  of  decisions  and 

erasing  as  though  it  were  on 

the  willingness  or  fear  to  make  them. 

silk?  And  do  we  just  abandon 
It  is  that  we  are  impermanently 

rather  than  finish  a  work? 
part  and  parcel  of  all.  We  are 

It  sounds  as  though  that  were 
involved  in  a  life  that  passes 

what  we  are  doing  but  where 

understanding  and  our  highest 

would  we  go  if  we  abandoned 

business  is  our  daily  life.  To  draw 

something?  We  only  have  to 

lines  straight  or  curved  anywhere 

change  our  means  of  measuring 

does  not  alter  the  situation,  only 

to  see  how  close  we  are  to  what 

affirms  it — if  indeed  the  lines  are 

we  were  doing.  It  is  not  an 

drawn,  I  mean  materially.  If 

object;  it  is  a  process  and  it 

not,  they  were  drawn  in  a  mind 

will  go  on  probably  for  some 

to  which  there  is  no  entry.  Let 

time.  It  is  difficult  to  know 

mysteries  remain.  Even  in  desperation 

whether  we  will  ever  forget 
we  fail  to  convey  our  thoughts, 

all  the  things  that  objects  made 
our  feelings.  It  is  because  a 

us  memorize.  However,  let  us 
line-drawing  mind  is  one  bent 

be  optimistic  and  giddy  with 
on  closure  whereas  the  only 

the  possibility— the  possibility 
means  of  getting  out  ( above  or 

of  having  everything  clearly 
below )  to  another  is  by  not 

what  it  is,  going  on  consuming 
drawing  lines,  by  keeping  the 

and  generously  giving  and 
doors  open,  by  some  fluent 

finding  time  to  find  our  access 
disclosure,  and  then  there  is  no 

to  revelation.  Now  of  course 
desperation.  Another  way  of 

everything  is  canceled,  not  canceled 
saying  it  is:  "Do  not  be 

but  postponed,  not  on  silk 
satisfied  with  approximations 

and  not  erased.  There  is 

( or  just:  Do  not  be  satisfied )  but  insist 

still  the  question  of  time  and 
WHERE    ARE    WE    GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING7/257 

( as  you  need  not)  on  what  comes 

the  old  and  the  new  and 

to  you."  This  morning,  up  neither 

whether  we'll  all  get  there 

early  nor  late,  aware  that  what- 

where  we're  going  but  we'll 

ever  it  is  is  still  with  me — a 

Therefore,  perhaps,  we  make  things 


never  be  sure  who  was  coming 

feeling  that  the  flesh  around  my 

that  are  irritatingly  worse  than 


in  the  first  place.  There'll 

eyes  is  swollen — perhaps  a 

we  would  want  them  to  be  in  our 


probably  be  some  new  faces.  We 

cold — or  the  glasses  which  are 
lives,  if  therapy,  a  kind  of  pre- 


want  to  get  together  (if  not 

new  and  which  the  oculist  said 

ventative  therapy.  And  now  the 


here,  in  the  South)  but  we're 

wouldn't  be  useful  after  three 

question  of  structure,  the  division  of  a 


going  in  different  directions.  Do 

years;  at  any  rate  I  did  get 

whole  into  parts.  We  no  longer 


you  suppose  anything  will  get  worked  out? 

up  and  was  told  the  telephone 

make  that  and  I  have  given  our 

had  been  ringing  and  then  that 

reasons  elsewhere  (here  too).  What 

a  friend  was  ready  and  waiting 

it  is  is  a  situation  in  which 

to  go  mushrooming.  The  night 

grandeur  can  rub  shoulders  with 

before  I'd  scheduled  my  time  for 

frivolity.  (Now  I  am  speak- 

not  just  today  but  the  week 

ing  to  the  man  at  the 

and  realized  clearly  that  if  I'd 

other  end  of  the  hall.)  At  any 

just  stick  to  it  I'd  get  it  done — 

rate,  now  structure  is  not  put 

this  lecture  I  mean — however, 

into  a  work,  but  comes  up  in 

I  called  and  said,  "An  egg  and 

the  person  who  perceives  it  in 

then  I'm  with  you."  Presently 

himself.  There  is  therefore  no  problem  of 

in  a  few  weeks  they'd  be  in 

the  Caribbean  with  all  the 

children.  In  my  mind's  eye 

I  was  hunting  for  tropical  fungi. 

Now  I'm  back  working.  There 

was  also  a  biological  puzzle  and  a  dis- 

cussion of  the  proper  use  of  knives  and  forks, 
in  the  woods  and  she  said 

understanding  but  the  possibility  of  awareness. 

WHERE    ARE    WE    GOING?    AND    WHAT    ARE    WE    DOING7/259 

Late  in  September  of  1958,  in  a  hotel  in  Stockholm,  I  set  about  writing  this 
lecture  for  delivery  a  week  later  at  the  Brussels  Fair.  I  recalled  a  remark  made 
years  earlier  by  David  Tudor  that  I  should  give  a  talk  that  was  nothing 
but  stories.  The  idea  was  appealing,  but  1  had  never  acted  on  it, 
and  I  decided  to  do  so  now. 

When  the  talk  was  given  in  Brussels,  it  consisted  of  only  thirty  stories, 
without  musical  accompaniment.  A  recital  by  David  Tudor  and  myself  of  music 
for  two  pianos  followed  the  lecture.  The  full  title  was  Indeterminacy: 
New  Aspect  of  Form  in  Instrumental  and  Electronic  Music. 
Karlheinz  Stockhausen  was  in  the  audience.  Later,  when  I  was  in  Milan 
making  the  Fontana  Mix  at  the  Studio  di  Fonologia,  I  received  a  letter  from 
him  asking  for  a  text  that  could  be  printed  in  Die  Reihe  No.  5. 
I  sent  the  Brussels  talk,  and  it  was  published. 


The  following  spring,  back  in  America,  I  delivered  the  talk  again, 
at  Teachers  College,  Columbia.  For  this  occasion  I  wrote  sixty  more  stories, 
and  there  was  a  musical  accompaniment  by  David  Tudor— material  from  the 
Concert  for  Piano  and  Orchestra,  employing  several  radios  as  noise 
elements.  Soon  thereafter  these  ninety  stories  were  brought  out  as  a  Folkways 
recording,  but  for  this  the  noise  elements  in  the  Concert  were  tracks 
from  the  Fontana  Mix. 

In  oral  delivery  of  this  lecture,  I  tell  one  story  a  minute.  If  it's  a  short  one, 
I  have  to  spread  it  out;  when  I  come  to  a  long  one,  I  have  to  speak  as 
rapidly  as  I  can.  The  continuity  of  the  stories  as  recorded  was  not  planned. 
I  simply  made  a  list  of  all  the  stories  I  could  think  of  and  checked  them  off  as 
I  wrote  them.  Some  that  I  remembered  I  was  not  able  to  write  to  my 
satisfaction,  and  so  they  were  not  used.  My  intention  in  putting  the  stories 
together  in  an  unplanned  way  was  to  suggest  that  all  things— stories,  incidental 
sounds  from  the  environment,  and,  by  extension,  beings— are  related,  and 
that  this  complexity  is  more  evident  when  it  is  not  oversimplified  by  an 
idea  of  relationship  in  one  persons  mind. 

Since  that  recording,  I  have  continued  to  write  down  stories  as  I  have 
found  them,  so  that  the  number  is  now  far  more  than  ninety.  Most  concern 
things  that  happened  that  stuck  in  my  mind.  Others  I  read  in  books  and 
remembered— those,  for  instance,  from  Sri  Ramakrishna  and  the  literature 
surrounding  Zen.  Still  others  have  been  told  me  by  friends— Merce  Cunningham, 
Virgil  Thomson,  Betty  Isaacs,  and  many  more.  Xenia,  who  figures  in  several 
of  them,  is  Xenia  Andreyevna  Kashevaroff,  to  whom  I  was  married  for 
some  ten  years. 


Some  stories  have  been  omitted  since  their  substance  forms  part  of  other 
writings  in  this  volume.  Many  of  those  that  remain  are  to  be  found  below. 
Others  are  scattered  through  the  book,  playing  the  function  that  odd  bits  of 
information  play  at  the  ends  of  columns  in  a  small-town  newspaper.  I  suggest 
that  they  be  read  in  the  manner  and  in  the  situations  that  one  reads 
newspapers— even  the  metropolitan  ones— when  he  does  so  purposelessly: 
that  is,  jumping  here  and  there  and  responding  at  the  same  time  to 
environmental  events  and  sounds. 

When  I  first  went  to  Paris,  I  did  so  instead  of 
returning  to  Pomona  College  for  my  junior  year. 
As  I  looked  around,  it  was  Gothic  architecture 
that  impressed  me  most.  And  of  that  architecture 
I  preferred  the  flamboyant  style  of  the  fifteenth 
century.  In  this  style  my  interest  was  attracted  by 
balustrades.  These  I  studied  for  six  weeks  in  the 
Bibliotheque  Mazarin,  getting  to  the  library  when 
the  doors  were  opened  and  not  leaving  until  they 
were  closed.  Professor  Pijoan,  whom  I  had  known 
at  Pomona,  arrived  in  Paris  and  asked  me  what  I 
was  doing.  (We  were  standing  in  one  of  the  rail- 
way stations  there. )  I  told  him.  He  gave  me  liter- 
ally a  swift  kick  in  the  pants  and  then  said,  "Go 
tomorrow  to  Goldfinger.  I'll  arrange  for  you  to 
work  with  him.  He's  a  modern  architect."  After 
a  month  of  working  with  Goldfinger,  measuring 
the  dimensions  of  rooms  which  he  was  to  modern- 
ize, answering  the  telephone,  and  drawing  Greek 
columns,  I  overheard  Goldfinger  saying,  "To  be 
an  architect,  one  must  devote  one's  life  solely  to 
architecture."  I  then  left  him,  for,  as  I  explained, 
there  were  other  things  that  interested  me,  music 
and  painting  for  instance. 

Five  years  later,  when  Schoenberg  asked  me 
whether  I  would  devote  my  life  to  music,  I  said, 
"Of  course."  After  I  had  been  studying  with  him 
for  two  years,  Schoenberg  said,  "In  order  to  write 
music,  you  must  have  a  feeling  for  harmony."  I 
explained  to  him  that  I  had  no  feeling  for  har- 
mony. He  then  said  that  I  would  always  en- 
counter an  obstacle,  that  it  would  be  as  though  I 
came  to  a  wall  through  which  I  could  not  pass.  I 

said,  "In  that  case  I  will  devote  my  life  to  beating 
my  head  against  that  wall." 

When  I  first  moved  to  the  country,  David 
Tudor,  M.  C.  Richards,  the  Weinribs,  and  I  all 
lived  in  the  same  small  farmhouse.  In  order  to  get 
some  privacy  I  started  taking  walks  in  the  woods. 
It  was  August.  I  began  collecting  the  mushrooms 
which  were  growing  more  or  less  everywhere. 
Then  I  bought  some  books  and  tried  to  find  out 
which  mushroom  was  which.  Realizing  I  needed 
to  get  to  know  someone  who  knew  something 
about  mushrooms,  I  called  the  4-H  Club  in  New 
City.  I  spoke  to  a  secretary.  She  said  they'd  call 
me  back.  They  never  did. 

The  following  spring,  after  reading  about  the 
edibility  of  skunk  cabbage  in  Medsger's  book  on 
wild  plants,  I  gathered  a  mess  of  what  I  took  to 
be  skunk  cabbage,  gave  some  to  my  mother  and 
father  (who  were  visiting)  to  take  home,  cooked 
the  rest  in  three  waters  with  a  pinch  of  soda  as 
Medsger  advises,  and  served  it  to  six  people,  one 
of  whom,  I  remember,  was  from  the  Museum  of 
Modern  Art.  I  ate  more  than  the  others  did  in  an 
attempt  to  convey  my  enthusiasm  over  edible  wild 
plants.  After  coffee,  poker  was  proposed.  I  began 
winning  heavily.  M.  C.  Richards  left  the  table. 
After  a  while  she  came  back  and  whispered  in  my 
ear,  "Do  you  feel  all  right?"  I  said,  "No.  I  don't. 
My  throat  is  burning  and  I  can  hardly  breathe." 
I  told  the  others  to  divide  my  winnings,  that  I  was 
folding.  I  went  outside  and  retched.  Vomiting 
with  diarrhea  continued  for  about  two  hours.  Be- 


fore  I  lost  my  will,  I  told  M.  C.  Richards  to  call 
Mother  and  Dad  and  tell  them  not  to  eat  the 
skunk  cabbage.  I  asked  her  how  the  others  were. 
She  said,  "They're  not  as  bad  off  as  you  are." 
Later,  when  friends  lifted  me  off  the  ground  to 
put  a  blanket  under  me,  I  just  said,  "Leave  me 
alone."  Someone  called  Dr.  Zukor.  He  prescribed 
milk  and  salt.  I  couldn't  take  it.  He  said,  "Get 
him  here  immediately."  They  did.  He  pumped 
my  stomach  and  gave  adrenalin  to  keep  my 
heart  beating.  Among  other  things,  he  said, 
"Fifteen  minutes  more  and  he  would  have  been 

I  was  removed  to  the  Spring  Valley  hospital. 
There  during  the  night  I  was  kept  supplied  with 
adrenalin  and  I  was  thoroughly  cleaned  out.  In 
the  morning  I  felt  like  a  million  dollars.  I  rang 
the  bell  for  the  nurse  to  tell  her  I  was  ready  to 
go.  No  one  came.  I  read  a  notice  on  the  wall 
which  said  that  unless  one  left  by  noon  he  would 
be  charged  for  an  extra  day.  When  I  saw  one 
of  the  nurses  passing  by  I  yelled  something  to 
the  effect  that  she  should  get  me  out  since  I  had 
no  money  for  a  second  day.  Shortly  the  room  was 
filled  with  doctors  and  nurses  and  in  no  time  at 
all  I  was  hustled  out. 

I  called  up  the  4-H  Club  and  told  them  what 
had  happened.  I  emphasized  my  determination 
to  go  on  with  wild  mushrooms.  They  said,  "Call 
Mrs.  Clark  on  South  Mountain  Drive."  She  said, 
"I  can't  help  you.  Call  Mr.  So-and-so."  I  called 
him.  He  said,  "I  can't  help  you,  but  call  So-and- 
so  who  works  in  the  A&P  in  Suffern.  He  knows 
someone  in  Ramsey  who  knows  the  mushrooms." 
Eventually,  I  got  the  name  and  telephone  number 
of  Guy  G.  Nearing.  When  I  called  him,  he  said, 
"Come  over  any  time  you  like.  I'm  almost  always 
here,  and  I'll  name  your  mushrooms  for  you." 

I  wrote  a  letter  to  Medsger  telling  him  skunk 
cabbage  was  poisonous.  He  never  replied.  Some 
time  later  I  read  about  the  need  to  distinguish 
between  skunk  cabbage  and  the  poisonous  helle- 

bore. They  grow  at  the  same  time  in  the  same 
places.  Hellebore  has  pleated  leaves.  Skunk  cab- 
bage does  not. 

During  recent  years  Daisetz  Teitaro  Suzuki 
has  done  a  great  deal  of  lecturing  at  Columbia 
University.  First  he  was  in  the  Department  of 
Religion,  then  somewhere  else.  Finally  he  settled 
down  on  the  seventh  floor  of  Philosophy  Hall. 
The  room  had  windows  on  two  sides,  a  large 
table  in  the  middle  with  ash  trays.  There  were 
chairs  around  the  table  and  next  to  the  walls. 
These  were  always  filled  with  people  listening, 
and  there  were  generally  a  few  people  standing 
near  the  door.  The  two  or  three  people  who  took 
the  class  for  credit  sat  in  chairs  around  the  table. 
The  time  was  four  to  seven.  During  this  period 
most  people  now  and  then  took  a  little  nap. 
Suzuki  never  spoke  loudly.  When  the  weather 
was  good  the  windows  were  open,  and  the  air- 
planes leaving  La  Guardia  flew  directly  over- 
head from  time  to  time,  drowning  out  whatever 
he  had  to  say.  He  never  repeated  what  had  been 
said  during  the  passage  of  the  airplane.  Three 
lectures  I  remember  in  particular.  While  he  was 
giving  them  I  couldn't  for  the  life  of  me  figure 
out  what  he  was  saying.  It  was  a  week  or  so  later, 
while  I  was  walking  in  the  woods  looking  for 
mushrooms,  that  it  all  dawned  on  me. 

Patsy  Davenport  heard  my  Folkways  record. 
She  said,  "When  the  story  came  about  my  asking 
you  how  you  felt  about  Bach,  I  could  remember 
everything  perfecdy  clearly,  sharply,  as  though 
I  were  living  through  it  again.  Tell  me,  what  did 
you  answer?  How  do  you  feel  about  Bach?"  I 
said  I  didn't  remember  what  I'd  said  —  that 
I'd  been  nonplused.  Then,  as  usual,  when  the  next 
day  came,  I  got  to  thinking.  Giving  up  Beethoven, 
the  emotional  climaxes  and  all,  is  fairly  simple  for 
an  American.  But  giving  up  Bach  is  more  difficult. 
Bach's  music  suggests  order  and  glorifies  for  those 


who  hear  it  their  regard  for  order,  which  in  their 
lives  is  expressed  by  daily  jobs  nine  to  five  and 
the  appliances  with  which  they  surround  them- 
selves and  which,  when  plugged  in,  God  willing, 
work.  Some  people  say  that  art  should  be  an  in- 
stance of  order  so  that  it  will  save  them  momen- 
tarily from  the  chaos  that  they  know  is  just 
around  the  corner.  Jazz  is  equivalent  to  Bach 
(steady  beat,  dependable  motor),  and  the  love  of 
Bach  is  generally  coupled  with  the  love  of  jazz. 
Jazz  is  more  seductive,  less  moralistic  than  Bach. 
It  popularizes  the  pleasures  and  pains  of  the  phys- 
ical life,  whereas  Bach  is  close  to  church  and  all 
that.  Knowing  as  we  do  that  so  many  jazz  mu- 
sicians stay  up  to  all  hours  and  even  take  dope, 
we  permit  ourselves  to  become,  sympathetically 
at  least,  junkies  and  night  owls  ourselves:  by 
participation  mystique.  Giving  up  Bach,  jazz,  and 
order  is  difficult.  Patsy  Davenport  is  right.  It's  a 
very  serious  question.  For  if  we  do  it  —  give  them 
up,  that  is  —  what  do  we  have  left? 

Once  when  I  was  a  child  in  Los  Angeles  I 
went  downtown  on  the  streetcar.  It  was  such  a 
hot  day  that,  when  I  got  out  of  the  streetcar,  the 
tar  on  the  pavement  stuck  to  my  feet.  (I  was 
barefoot.)  Getting  to  the  sidewalk,  I  found  it  so 
hot  that  I  had  to  run  to  keep  from  blistering  my 
feet.  I  went  into  a  five  and  dime  to  get  a  root 
beer.  When  I  came  to  the  counter  where  it  was 
sold  from  a  large  barrel  and  asked  for  some,  a 
man  standing  on  the  counter  high  above  me  said, 
"Wait.  I'm  putting  in  the  syrup  and  it'll  be  a  few 
minutes."  As  he  was  putting  in  the  last  can,  he 
missed  and  spilled  the  sticky  syrup  all  over  me. 
To  make  me  feel  better,  he  offered  a  free  root 
beer.  I  said,  "No,  thank  you." 

Betty  Isaacs  told  me  that  when  she  was  in 
New  Zealand  she  was  informed  that  none  of  the 
mushrooms  growing  wild  there  was  poisonous.  So 
one  day  when  she  noticed  a  hillside  covered  with 

fungi,  she  gathered  a  lot  and  made  catsup.  When 
she  finished  the  catsup,  she  tasted  it  and  it  was 
awful.  Nevertheless  she  bottled  it  and  put  it  up 
on  a  high  shelf.  A  year  later  she  was  houseclean- 
ing  and  discovered  the  catsup,  which  she  had 
forgotten  about.  She  was  on  the  point  of  throwing 
it  away.  But  before  doing  this  she  tasted  it.  It 
had  changed  color.  Originally  a  dirty  gray,  it  had 
become  black,  and,  as  she  told  me,  it  was  divine, 
improving  the  flavor  of  whatever  it  touched. 

George  Mantor  had  an  iris  garden,  which  he 
improved  each  year  by  throwing  out  the  com- 
moner varieties.  One  day  his  attention  was  called 
to  another  very  fine  iris  garden.  Jealously  he  made 
some  inquiries.  The  garden,  it  turned  out,  be- 
longed to  the  man  who  collected  his  garbage. 

Staying  in  India  and  finding  the  sun  unbear- 
able, Mrs.  Coomaraswamy  decided  to  shop  for  a 
parasol.  She  found  two  in  the  town  nearby.  One 
was  in  the  window  of  a  store  dealing  in  American 
goods.  It  was  reasonably  priced  but  unattractive. 
The  other  was  in  an  Indian  store.  It  was  Indian- 
made,  desirable,  but  outlandishly  expensive.  Mrs. 
Coomaraswamy  went  back  home  without  buying 
anything.  But  the  weather  continued  dry  and  hot, 
so  that  a  few  days  later  she  went  again  into  town 
determined  to  make  a  purchase.  Passing  by  the 
American  shop,  she  noticed  their  parasol  was  still 
in  the  window,  still  reasonably  priced.  Going  into 
the  Indian  shop,  she  asked  to  see  the  one  she  had 
admired  a  few  days  before.  While  she  was  looking 
at  it,  the  price  was  mentioned.  This  time  it  was 
absurdly  low.  Surprised,  Mrs.  Coomaraswamy 
said,  "How  can  I  trust  you?  One  day  your  prices 
are  up;  the  next  day  they're  down.  Perhaps  your 
goods  are  equally  undependable."  "Madame,"  the 
storekeeper  replied,  "the  people  across  the  street 
are  new  in  business.  They  are  intent  on  profit. 
Their  prices  are  stable.  We,  however,  have  been 
in  business  for  generations.  The  best  things  we 


have  we  keep  in  the  family,  for  we  are  reluctant 
to  part  with  them.  As  for  our  prices,  we  change 
them  continually.  That's  the  only  way  we've 
found  in  business  to  keep  ourselves  interested." 

There's  a  street  in  Stony  Point  in  a  lowland 
near  the  river  where  a  number  of  species  of  mush- 
rooms grow  abundantly.  I  visit  this  street  often. 
A  few  years  ago  in  May  I  found  the  morel  there, 
a  choice  mushroom  which  is  rare  around  Rock- 
land County.  I  was  delighted.  None  of  the  people 
living  on  this  street  ever  talk  to  me  while  I'm 
collecting  mushrooms.  Sometimes  children  come 
over  and  kick  at  them  before  I  get  to  them.  Well, 
the  year  after  I  found  the  morel,  I  went  back  in 
May  expecting  to  find  it  again,  only  to  discover 
that  a  cinder-block  house  had  been  put  up  where 
the  mushroom  had  been  growing.  As  I  looked  at 
the  changed  land,  all  the  people  in  the  neighbor- 
hood came  out  on  their  porches.  One  of  them  said, 
"Ha,  ha!  Your  mushrooms  are  gone." 

We  are  all  part  and  parcel  of  a  way  of  life 
that  puts  trust  in  the  almighty  dollar— so  much  so 
that  we  feel  ourselves  slipping  when  we  hear  that 
on  the  international  market  the  West  German 
mark  inspires  more  confidence.  Food,  one  as- 
sumes, provides  nourishment;  but  Americans  eat 
it  fully  aware  that  small  amounts  of  poison  have 
been  added  to  improve  its  appearance  and  delay 
its  putrefaction.  None  of  us  wants  cancer  or  skin 
diseases,  but  there  are  those  who  tell  us  that's 
how  we  get  them.  It's  hard  to  tell,  come  Decem- 
ber, whether  we're  celebrating  the  birth  of  Christ 
or  whether  American  business  has  simply  pulled 
the  wool  over  our  eyes.  When  I  hear  that  an 
artist  whose  work  I  admire  gets  $7000  for  a  paint- 
ing whereas  another  whose  work  I  don't  admire 
gets  twice  as  much,  do  I  then  change  my  mind? 
Ten  years  ago  the  New  York  painters  were  for  the 
most  part  poor  as  church  mice.  Did  they  then  or 
do  they  now  have  a  place  in  American  society? 


Coming  back  from  an  all-Ives  concert  we'd 
attended  in  Connecticut,  Minna  Lederman  said 
that  by  separating  his  insurance  business  from  his 
composition  of  music  (as  completely  as  day  is 
separated  from  night),  Ives  paid  full  respect  to 
the  American  assumption  that  the  artist  has  no 
place  in  society.  (When  Mother  first  heard  my 
percussion  quartet  years  ago  in  Santa  Monica,  she 
said,  "I  enjoyed  it,  but  where  are  you  going  to 
put  it?")  But  music  is,  or  was  at  one  time,  Amer- 
ica's sixth-largest  industry— above  or  below  steel, 
I  don't  remember  which.  Schoenberg  used  to  say 
that  the  movie  composers  knew  their  business 
very  well.  Once  he  asked  those  in  the  class  who 
intended  to  become  professional  musicians  to  put 
up  their  hands.  No  one  did.  (Uncle  Walter  in- 
sisted when  he  married  her  that  Aunt  Marge,  who 
was  a  contralto,  should  give  up  her  career.)  My 
bet  is  that  the  phenomenal  prices  paid  for  paint- 
ings in  New  York  at  the  present  time  have  less  to 
do  with  art  than  with  business.  The  lady  who 
lived  next  door  in  Santa  Monica  told  me  the 
painting  she  had  in  her  dining  room  was  worth 
lots  of  money.  She  mentioned  an  astronomical 
sum.  I  said,  "How  do  you  know?"  She  said  she'd 
seen  a  small  painting  worth  a  certain  amount, 
measured  it,  measured  hers  (which  was  much 
larger),  multiplied,  and  that  was  that. 

Mrs.  Coomaraswamy  told  another  story  about 
business  methods  in  India.  It  seems  that  early  one 
morning  she  was  at  a  kind  of  craftsmen's  bazaar. 
There  were  fewer  shops  available  than  there  were 
craftsmen.  So  a  poetry  contest  was  arranged.  The 
one  who  made  up  the  best  poem  got  the  shop. 
The  losers  were  going  away  quite  contented  re- 
citing the  winning  poem.  She  asked  them  why 
they  were  so  pleased  since  they  were  actually  un- 
fortunate. They  said,  "Oh,  it's  no  matter.  When 
his  goods  are  sold  he'll  have  no  use  for  the  shop. 
Then  one  more  of  us  will  get  a  chance  to  sell 
what  he  has,  and  so  on." 

Lois  Long  (the  Lois  Long  who  designs  tex- 
tiles), Christian  Wolff,  and  I  climbed  Slide  Moun- 
tain along  with  Guy  Nearing  and  the  Flemings, 
including  Wilhe.  All  the  way  up  and  down  the 
mountain  we  found  nothing  but  Collybia  platy- 
phylla,  so  that  I  began  to  itch  to  visit  a  cemetery 
in  Millerton,  New  York,  where,  in  my  mind's  eye, 
Pluteus  cervinus  was  growing.  By  the  time  we 
got  back  to  the  cars,  our  knees  were  shaking  with 
fatigue  and  the  sun  had  gone  down.  Nevertheless, 
I  managed  to  persuade  Lois  Long  and  Christian 
Wolff  to  drive  over  to  Millerton.  It  meant  an  extra 
hundred  miles.  We  arrived  at  the  cemetery  at 
midnight.  I  took  a  flashlight  out  of  the  glove  com- 
partment, got  out,  and  first  hastily  and  then  care- 
fully examined  all  the  stumps  and  the  ground 
around  them.  There  wasn't  a  single  mushroom 
growing.  Going  back  to  the  car,  I  fully  expected 
Lois  Long  and  Christian  Wolff  to  be  exasperated. 
However,  they  were  entranced.  The  aurora  bore- 
alis,  which  neither  of  them  had  ever  seen  before, 
was  playing  in  the  northern  sky. 

I  dug  up  some  hog  peanuts  and  boiled  them 
with  butter,  salt,  and  pepper  for  Bob  Rauschen- 
berg  and  Jasper  Johns.  I  was  anxious  to  know 
what  Jasper  Johns  would  think  of  them  because 
I  knew  he  liked  boiled  peanuts.  I  was  curious  to 
know  whether  he  would  find  a  similarity  between 
boiled  peanuts  and  hog  peanuts.  Most  people  in 
the  North  have  no  experience  at  all  of  boiled 
peanuts.  People  who've  had  hog  peanuts  speak 
afterwards  of  the  taste  of  chestnuts  and  beans. 
Anyway,  Jasper  Johns  said  they  were  very  good 
but  that  they  didn't  taste  particularly  like  boiled 
peanuts.  Then  he  went  down  to  South  Carolina 
for  a  few  weeks  in  November.  When  I  saw  him 
after  he  got  back,  he  said  he'd  had  boiled  peanuts 
again  and  that  they  tasted  very  much  like  hog 

Artists  talk  a  lot  about  freedom.  So,  recalling 
the  expression  "free  as  a  bird,"  Morton  Feldman 

went  to  a  park  one  day  and  spent  some  time 
watching  our  feathered  friends.  When  he  came 
back,  he  said,  "You  know?  They're  not  free: 
they're  fighting  over  bits  of  food." 

I  was  asked  to  play  my  Sonatas  and  Inter- 
ludes in  the  home  of  an  elderly  lady  in  Burnsville, 
North  Carolina,  the  only  person  thereabouts  who 
owned  a  grand  piano.  I  explained  that  the  piano 
preparation  would  take  at  least  three  hours  and 
that  I  would  need  a  few  additional  hours  for  prac- 
ticing before  the  performance.  It  was  arranged  for 
me  to  start  work  directly  after  lunch.  After  about 
an  hour,  I  decided  to  take  a  breather.  I  fit  a  ciga- 
rette and  went  out  on  the  veranda,  where  I  found 
my  hostess  sitting  in  a  rocking  chair.  We  began 
chatting.  She  asked  me  where  I  came  from.  I  told 
her  that  I'd  been  born  in  Los  Angeles  but  that  as 
a  child  I  was  raised  both  there  and  in  Michigan; 
that  after  two  years  of  college  in  Claremont,  Cali- 
fornia, I  had  spent  eighteen  months  in  Europe 
and  North  Africa;  that,  after  returning  to  Califor- 
nia, I  had  moved  first  from  Santa  Monica  to 
Carmel,  then  to  New  York,  then  back  to  Los 
Angeles,  then  to  Seattle,  San  Francisco,  and  Chi- 
cago, successively;  that,  at  the  moment,  I  was  liv- 
ing in  New  York  in  an  apartment  on  the  East 
River.  Then  I  said,  "And  where  do  you  come 
from?"  She  said,  pointing  to  a  gas  station  across 
the  street,  "From  over  there."  She  went  on  to  say 
that  one  of  her  sons  had  tried  to  persuade  her  to 
make  a  second  move,  for  now  she  lived  alone  ex- 
cept for  the  servants,  and  to  come  and  five  with 
him  and  his  family.  She  said  she  refused  because 
she  wouldn't  feel  at  home  in  a  strange  place. 
When  I  asked  where  he  lived,  she  said,  "A  few 
blocks  down  the  street." 

On  one  occasion,  Schoenberg  asked  a  girl  in 
his  class  to  go  to  the  piano  and  play  the  first  move- 
ment of  a  Beethoven  sonata,  which  was  after- 
wards to  be  analyzed.  She  said,  "It  is  too  difficult. 


I  can't  play  it."  Schoenberg  said,  "You're  a  pianist, 
aren't  you?"  She  said,  "Yes."  He  said,  "Then  go  to 
the  piano."  She  did.  She  had  no  sooner  begun 
playing  than  he  stopped  her  to  say  that  she  was 
not  playing  at  the  proper  tempo.  She  said  that  if 
she  played  at  the  proper  tempo,  she  would  make 
mistakes.  He  said,  "Play  at  the  proper  tempo  and 
do  not  make  mistakes."  She  began  again,  and  he 
stopped  her  immediately  to  say  that  she  was  mak- 
ing mistakes.  She  then  burst  into  tears  and  between 
sobs  explained  that  she  had  gone  to  the  dentist 
earlier  that  day  and  that  she'd  had  a  tooth  pulled 
out.  He  said,  "Do  you  have  to  have  a  tooth  pulled 
out  in  order  to  make  mistakes?" 

There  was  a  lady  in  Suzuki's  class  who  said 
once,  "I  have  great  difficulty  reading  the  sermons 
of  Meister  Eckhart,  because  of  all  the  Christian 
imagery."  Dr.  Suzuki  said,  "That  difficulty  will 

Betty  Isaacs  went  shopping  at  Altaian's.  She 
spent  all  her  money  except  her  last  dime,  which 
she  kept  in  her  hand  so  that  she'd  have  it  ready 
when  she  got  on  the  bus  to  go  home  and  wouldn't 
have  to  fumble  around  in  her  purse  since  her  arms 
were  full  of  parcels  and  she  was  also  carrying  a 
shopping  bag.  Waiting  for  the  bus,  she  decided  to 
make  sure  she  still  had  the  coin.  When  she  opened 
her  hand,  there  was  nothing  there.  She  mentally 
retraced  her  steps  trying  to  figure  out  where  she'd 
lost  the  dime.  Her  mind  made  up,  she  went 
straight  to  the  glove  department,  and  sure  enough 
there  it  was  on  the  floor  where  she'd  been  stand- 
ing. As  she  stooped  to  pick  it  up,  another  shopper 
said,  "I  wish  I  knew  where  to  go  to  pick  money 
up  off  the  floor."  Relieved,  Betty  Isaacs  took  the 
bus  home  to  the  Village.  Unpacking  her  parcels, 
she  discovered  the  dime  in  the  bottom  of  the 
shopping  bag. 

When  David  Tudor,  Merce  Cunningham, 
Carolyn  and  Earle  Brown,  and  I  arrived  in  Brus- 

sels a  year  or  so  ago  for  programs  at  the  World's 
Fair,  we  found  out  that  Earle  Brown's  Indices  was 
not  going  to  be  played  since  the  orchestra  found 
it  too  difficult.  So,  putting  two  and  two  together, 
we  proposed  that  Merce  Cunningham  and  Caro- 
lyn Brown  dance  solos  and  duets  from  Merce 
Cunningham's  Springweather  and  People  (which 
is  his  tide  for  Earle  Brown's  Indices)  and  that 
David  Tudor  play  the  piano  transcription  as  ac- 
companiment. With  great  difficulty,  arrangements 
were  made  to  realize  this  proposal.  At  the  last 
minute  the  authorities  agreed.  However,  just  be- 
fore the  performance,  the  Pope  died  and  every- 
thing was  canceled. 

One  day  down  at  Black  Mountain  College, 
David  Tudor  was  eating  his  lunch.  A  student 
came  over  to  his  table  and  began  asking  him  ques- 
tions. David  Tudor  went  on  eating  his  lunch.  The 
student  kept  on  asking  questions.  Finally  David 
Tudor  looked  at  him  and  said,  "If  you  don't  know, 
why  do  you  ask?" 

When  David  Tudor  and  I  walked  into  the 
hotel  where  we  were  invited  to  stay  in  Brussels, 
there  were  large  envelopes  for  each  of  us  at  the 
desk;  they  were  full  of  programs,  tickets,  invita- 
tions, special  passes  to  the  Fair,  and  general  in- 
formation. One  of  the  invitations  I  had  was  to  a 
luncheon  at  the  royal  palace  adjacent  to  the  Fair 
Grounds.  I  was  to  reply,  but  I  didn't  because  I 
was  busy  with  rehearsals,  performances,  and  the 
writing  of  thirty  of  these  stories,  which  I  was  to 
deliver  as  a  lecture  in  the  course  of  the  week  de- 
voted to  experimental  music.  So  one  day  when  I 
was  coming  into  the  hotel,  the  desk  attendant 
asked  me  whether  I  expected  to  go  to  the  palace 
for  lunch  the  following  day.  I  said,  "Yes."  Over 
the  phone,  he  said,  "He's  coming."  And  then  he 
checked  my  name  off  a  fist  in  front  of  him.  He 
asked  whether  I  knew  the  plans  of  others  on  the 
fist,  which  by  that  time  I  was  reading  upside 


down.  I  helped  him  as  best  I  could.  The  next 
morning  when  I  came  down  for  breakfast  there 
was  a  man  from  Paris  associated  as  physicist  with 
Schaeffer's  studio  for  musique  concrete.  I  said, 
"Well,  I'll  be  seeing  you  at  luncheon  today."  He 
said,  "What  luncheon?"  I  said,  "At  the  palace." 
He  said,  "I  haven't  been  invited."  I  said,  "I'm  sure 
you  are  invited.  I  saw  your  name  on  the  list.  You'd 
better  call  them  up;  they're  anxious  to  know  who's 
coming."  An  hour  later  the  phone  rang  for  me.  It 
was  the  director  of  the  week's  events.  He  said, 
"I've  just  found  out  that  you've  invited  Dr.  So- 
and-So  to  the  luncheon."  I  said  I'd  seen  his  name 
on  the  list.  The  director  said,  "You've  made  a  mis- 
take and  I  am  able  to  correct  it,  but  what  I'd  like 
to  know  is:  How  many  others  have  you  also 

An  Indian  woman  who  lived  in  the  islands 
was  required  to  come  to  Juneau  to  testify  in  a 
trial.  After  she  had  solemnly  sworn  to  tell  the 
truth,  the  whole  truth,  and  nothing  but  the  truth, 
she  was  asked  whether  she  had  been  subpoenaed. 
She  said,  "Yes.  Once  on  the  boat  coming  over, 
and  once  in  the  hotel  here  in  Juneau." 

I  took  a  number  of  mushrooms  to  Guy 
Nearing,  and  asked  him  to  name  them  for  me.  He 
did.  On  my  way  home,  I  began  to  doubt  whether 
one  particular  mushroom  was  what  he  had  called 
it.  When  I  got  home  I  got  out  my  books  and  came 
to  the  conclusion  that  Guy  Nearing  had  made  a 
mistake.  The  next  time  I  saw  him  I  told  him  all 
about  this  and  he  said,  "There  are  so  many  Latin 
names  rolling  around  in  my  head  that  sometimes 
the  wrong  one  comes  out." 

A  depressed  young  man  came  to  see  Hazel 
Dreis,  the  bookbinder.  He  said,  "I've  decided  to 
commit  suicide."  She  said,  "I  think  it's  a  good 
idea.  Why  don't  you  do  it?" 

David  Tudor  and  I  went  up  to  New  Haven 
to  do  a  television  class  for  the  New  Haven  State 
Teachers  College.  That  college  specializes  in  teach- 
ing by  means  of  television.  What  they  do  is  to 
make  a  tape,  audio  and  visual,  and  then  broad- 
cast it  at  a  later  date  early  in  the  morning.  In  the 
course  of  my  talking,  I  said  something  about  the 
purpose  of  purposelessness.  Afterwards,  one  of  the 
teachers  said  to  the  head  of  the  Music  Depart- 
ment, "How  are  you  going  to  explain  that  to  the 
class  next  Tuesday?"  Anyway,  we  finished  the  TV 
business,  drove  back  to  the  school,  and  I  asked  the 
teachers  to  recommend  some  second-hand  book- 
stores in  New  Haven  for  David  Tudor  and  me  to 
visit.  They  did.  A  half -hour  later  when  we  walked 
into  one  of  them,  the  book  dealer  said,  "Mr. 
Tudor?  Mr.  Cage?"  I  said,  "Yes?"  He  said,  "You're 
to  call  the  State  Teachers  College."  I  did.  They 
said  the  television  class  we  had  recorded  had  not 
been  recorded  at  all.  Apparently  someone  forgot 
to  turn  something  on. 

On  the  way  back  from  New  Haven  we  were 
driving  along  the  Housatonic.  It  was  a  beautiful 
day.  We  stopped  to  have  dinner  but  the  restau- 
rants at  the  river's  edge  turned  out  not  to  be  res- 
taurants at  all  but  dark,  run-down  bars  with, 
curiously,  no  views  of  the  river.  So  we  drove  on 
to  Newtown,  where  we  saw  many  cars  parked 
around  a  restaurant  that  appeared  to  have  a  Colo- 
nial atmosphere.  I  said,  "All  those  cars  are  a  good 
sign.  Let's  eat  there."  When  we  got  in,  we  were 
in  a  large  dining  room  with  very  few  other  people 
eating.  The  waitress  seemed  slightiy  giddy.  David 
Tudor  ordered  some  ginger  ale,  and  after  quite  a 
long  time  was  served  some  Coca-Cola,  which  he 
refused.  Later  we  both  ordered  parfaits;  mine  was 
to  be  chocolate,  his  to  be  strawberry.  As  the  wait- 
ress entered  the  kitchen,  she  shouted,  "Two  choc- 
olate parfaits."  When  David  Tudor  explained  to 
her  later  that  he  had  ordered  strawberry,  she  said, 
"They  made  some  mistake  in  the  kitchen."  I  said, 


"There  must  be  another  dining  room  in  this  build- 
ing with  a  lot  of  people  eating  in  it."  The  waitress 
said,  "Yes.  It's  downstairs  and  there  are  only  two 
of  us  for  each  floor  and  we  keep  running  back  and 

Then  we  had  to  go  back  to  New  Haven  to  do 
the  TV  class  over  again.  This  time  on  the  way 
back  it  was  a  very  hot  and  humid  day.  We  stopped 
again  in  Newtown,  but  at  a  different  place,  for 
some  ice.  There  was  a  choice:  raspberry,  grape, 
lemon,  orange,  and  pineapple.  I  took  grape.  It 
was  refreshing.  I  asked  the  lady  who  served  it 
whether  she  had  made  it.  She  said,  "Yes."  I  said, 
"Is  it  fresh  fruit?"  She  said,  "It's  not  fresh,  but 
it's  fruit." 

Mr.  Ralph  Ferrara  drives  a  Studebaker  Lark 
which  is  mashed  at  both  ends.  Sometimes  the  car 
requires  to  be  pushed  in  order  to  run.  One  Sunday 
when  the  mushroom  class  met  at  10:00  A.M.  at 
Suffem,  Mr.  Ferrara  didn't  arrive.  Next  week  he 
told  me  he'd  arrived  late,  gone  to  Sloatsburg, 
gathered  a  few  mushrooms,  gone  home,  cooked 
dinner,  and  two  of  his  guests  were  immediately 
ill  but  not  seriously.  At  the  last  mushroom  field 
trip,  November  1,  1959,  we  ended  at  my  house, 
drank  some  stone  fences,  and  ate  some  Cortinarius 
alboviolaceous  that  Lois  Long  cooked.  She  said  to 
Ralph  Ferrara,  "Mr.  Cage  says  that  there's  noth- 
ing like  a  little  mushroom  poisoning  to  make  peo- 
ple be  on  time."  He  said,  "Oh,  yes.  I'm  always 
first  in  the  parking  lot." 

While  I  was  studying  the  frozen  food  depart- 
ment of  Gristede's  one  day,  Mrs.  Elliott  Carter 
came  up  and  said,  "Hello,  John.  I  thought  you 
touched  only  fresh  foods."  I  said,  "All  you  have  to 
do  is  look  at  them  and  then  you  come  over  here." 
She  said,  "Elliott  and  I  have  just  gotten  back  from 
Europe.  We'd  sublet  to  some  intellectuals  whose 
names  I  won't  mention.  They  had  been  eating 

those  platters  with  all  sorts  of  food  on  them."  I 
said,  "Not  TV  dinners?"  She  said,  "Yes,  I  found 
them  stuffed  around  everywhere." 

When  I  came  to  New  York  to  study  with 
Adolph  Weiss  and  Henry  Cowell,  I  took  a  job  in 
the  Brooklyn  YWCA  washing  walls.  There  was 
one  other  wall-washer.  He  was  more  experienced 
than  I.  He  told  me  how  many  walls  to  wash  per 
day.  In  this  way  he  checked  my  original  enthu- 
siasm, with  the  result  that  I  spent  a  great  deal  of 
time  simply  reading  the  old  newspapers  which  I 
used  to  protect  the  floors.  Thus  I  had  always  to 
be,  so  to  speak,  on  my  toes,  ready  to  resume  scrub- 
bing the  moment  I  heard  the  housekeeper  ap- 
proaching. One  room  finished,  I  was  to  go  to  the 
next,  but  before  entering  any  room  I  was  to  look 
in  the  keyhole  to  see  whether  the  occupant's  key 
was  in  it  on  the  inside.  If  I  saw  no  key,  I  was  to 
assume  the  room  empty,  go  in,  and  set  to  work. 
One  morning,  called  to  the  office,  I  was  told  I  had 
been  accused  of  peeking  through  the  keyholes.  I 
no  sooner  began  to  defend  myself  than  I  was  in- 
terrupted. The  housekeeper  said  that  each  year 
the  wall-washer,  no  matter  who  he  was,  was  so 
accused,  always  by  the  same  lady. 

Standing  in  line,  Max  Jacob  said,  gives  one 
the  opportunity  to  practice  patience. 

Mr.  Romanoff  is  in  the  mushroom  class.  He  is 
a  pharmacist  and  takes  color  slides  of  the  fungi 
we  find.  It  was  he  who  picked  up  a  mushroom  I 
brought  to  the  first  meeting  of  the  class  at  the 
New  School,  smelled  it,  and  said,  "Has  anyone 
perfumed  this  mushroom?"  Lois  Long  said,  "I 
don't  think  so."  With  each  plant  Mr.  Romanoff's 
pleasure  is,  as  one  might  say,  like  that  of  a  child. 
(However,  now  and  then  children  come  on  the 
field  trips  and  they  don't  show  particular  delight 
over  what  is  found.  They  try  to  attract  attention 
to  themselves.)  Mr.  Romanoff  said  the  other  day, 


"Life  is  the  sum  total  of  all  the  little  things  that 
happen."  Mr.  Nearing  smiled. 

Tucker  Madawick  is  seventeen  years  old.  He 
is  Lois  Long's  son  by  her  first  husband.  It  was 
dinnertime.  He  came  home  from  his  job  in  the 
Good  Samaritan  Hospital  in  Suffern  and  said  to 
his  mother,  "Well,  dear,  I  won't  be  seeing  you  for 
a  couple  of  days."  Lois  Long  said,  "What's  up?" 
Tucker  said,  "Tomorrow  night  after  work,  I'm 
driving  to  Albany  with  Danny  Sherwood  for  a  cup 
of  coffee,  and  I'll  be  back  for  work  the  following 
day."  Lois  Long  said,  "For  heaven's  sake,  you  can 
have  a  cup  of  coffee  here  at  home."  Tucker  Mada- 
wick replied,  "Don't  be  a  square.  Read  Kerouac." 

Merce  Cunningham's  parents  were  going  to 
Seattle  to  see  their  other  son,  Jack.  Mrs.  Cunning- 
ham was  driving.  Mr.  Cunningham  said,  "Don't 
you  think  you  should  go  a  little  slower?  You'll  get 
caught."  He  gave  this  warning  several  times. 
Finally,  on  the  outskirts  of  Seattle,  they  were 
stopped  by  a  policeman.  He  asked  to  see  Mrs. 
Cunningham's  license.  She  rummaged  around  in 
her  bag  and  said,  "I  just  don't  seem  to  be  able  to 
find  it."  He  then  asked  to  see  the  registration.  She 
looked  for  it  but  unsuccessfully.  The  officer  then 
said,  "Well,  what  are  we  going  to  do  with  you?" 
Mrs.  Cunningham  started  the  engine.  Before  she 
drove  off,  she  said,  "I  just  don't  have  any  more 
time  to  waste  talking  with  you.  Good-by." 

I  went  to  hear  Krishnamurti  speak.  He  was 
lecturing  on  how  to  hear  a  lecture.  He  said,  "You 
must  pay  full  attention  to  what  is  being  said  and 
you  can't  do  that  if  you  take  notes."  The  lady  on 
my  right  was  taking  notes.  The  man  on  her  right 
nudged  her  and  said,  "Don't  you  hear  what  he's 
saying?  You're  not  supposed  to  take  notes."  She 
then  read  what  she  had  written  and  said,  "That's 
right.  I  have  it  written  down  right  here  in  my 

Virgil  Thomson  and  Maurice  Grosser  were 
driving  across  the  United  States.  When  they  came 
to  Kansas,  Virgil  Thomson  said,  "Drive  as  fast  as 
possible,  in  no  case  stop.  Keep  on  going  until  we 
get  out  of  it."  Maurice  Grosser  got  hungry  and 
insisted  on  stopping  for  lunch.  Seeing  something 
at  the  end  of  the  counter,  he  asked  what  it  was, 
and  the  waitress  replied,  "Peanut  butter  pie." 
Virgil  Thomson  said,  "You  see  what  I  mean?" 

One  of  Mies  van  der  Rohe's  pupils,  a  girl, 
came  to  him  and  said,  "I  have  difficulty  studying 
with  you  because  you  don't  leave  any  room  for 
self-expression."  He  asked  her  whether  she  had 
a  pen  with  her.  She  did.  He  said,  "Sign  your 
name."  She  did.  He  said,  "That's  what  I  call 

Just  before  I  moved  to  the  country,  I  called 
up  the  Museum  of  Natural  History  and  asked  a 
man  there  what  poisonous  snakes  were  to  be 
found  in  Rockland  County.  Unhesitatingly  he  re- 
plied, "The  copperhead  and  the  rattlesnake." 
Going  through  the  woods,  I  never  see  either  (now 
and  then  a  blacksnake  or  some  other  harmless 
reptile  down  near  the  stream  or  even  up  in  the 
hills).  The  children  across  the  road  warned  me 
that  in  our  woods  snakes  hang  from  the  trees.  A 
man  who  works  for  the  Interstate  Park  and  who 
fives  just  north  of  us  on  Gate  Hill  told  me  he'd 
never  seen  any  poisonous  snakes  on  our  land. 

On  a  mushroom  walk  near  Mianus  Gorge  in 
Connecticut  we  came  across  thirty  copperheads 
basking  in  the  sun.  Mr.  Fleming  put  one  in  a 
paper  bag  and  carried  it  home  attached  to  his 
belt.  He  is,  of  course,  a  specialist  with  snakes, 
works  for  the  Bronx  Zoo,  and  makes  hunting  ex- 
peditions in  South  America.  However,  he  told  me 
once  of  another  snake  specialist  who  worked  for 
the  Park  his  whole  life  without  ever  having  any 
trouble,  and  then,  after  getting  his  pension,  went 


out  tramping  in  the  woods,  was  bitten  by  a  copper- 
head, didn't  take  the  bite  seriously,  and  died  of  it. 

Among  those  thirty  copperheads  at  Mianus 
Gorge  I  noticed  three  different  colorations,  so 
that  I  have  lost  faith  in  the  pictures  in  the  books 
as  far  as  snake  identification  goes.  What  you  have 
to  do,  it  seems,  is  notice  whether  or  not  there  is  a 
pitlike  indentation  in  each  of  the  snake's  cheeks, 
between  the  eye  and  the  nostril,  in  order  to  be 
certain  whether  it's  poisonous  or  not.  This  is,  of 
course,  difficult  unless  one  is  already  dangerously 

Over  in  New  Jersey  on  Bare  Fort  Mountain 
and  once  up  at  Sam's  Point  we  ran  into  rattle- 
snakes. They  were  larger  and  more  noble  in  action 
and  appearance  than  the  copperheads.  There  was 
only  one  on  each  occasion,  and  each  went  through 
the  business  of  coifing,  rattiing,  and  spitting. 
Neither  struck. 

My  new  room  is  one  step  up  from  my  old 
kitchen.  One  fall  evening  before  the  gap  between 
the  two  rooms  was  closed  up,  I  was  shaving  at  the 
sink  and  happened  to  notice  what  seemed  to  be  a 
copperhead  making  its  way  into  the  house  five 
feet  away  from  where  I  was  standing.  Never  hav- 
ing killed  a  snake  and  feeling  the  urgency  of  that's 
being  done,  I  called,  "Paul!  A  copperhead's  in  the 
house!"  Paul  Williams  came  running  over  from  his 
house  and  killed  the  snake  with  a  bread  board. 
After  he  left,  the  snake  was  still  writhing.  I  cut 
off  its  head  with  a  carving  knife.  With  a  pair  of 
tongs,  I  picked  up  both  parts  and  flushed  them 
down  the  toilet. 

When  I  told  Daniel  DeWees  what  had  hap- 
pened, he  said,  "That's  what  I  thought.  When  I 
was  working  in  the  dark  under  the  house  the 
other  day  putting  in  the  insulation,  I  had  the  feel- 
ing there  was  a  snake  there  near  me."  I  said, 
"Was  it  just  a  feeling?  Did  you  imagine  it?  Or 
was  there  something  made  you  certain?"  He  said, 
"Well,  I  thought  I  heard  some  hissing." 

In  1949  Merce  Cunningham  and  I  went  to 
Europe  on  a  Dutch  boat.  As  we  were  approach- 
ing Rotterdam,  the  fog  became  so  thick  that  land- 
ing was  delayed.  To  expedite  matters,  the  cus- 
toms officials  came  aboard  the  boat.  Passengers 
formed  into  lines  and  one  by  one  were  questioned. 
Merce  Cunningham  was  in  one  line,  I  was  in  an- 
other. I  smoke  a  great  deal,  whereas  he  doesn't 
smoke  at  all.  However,  he  was  taking  five  cartons 
of  cigarettes  into  Europe  for  me  and  I  had  that 
number  myself.  We  were  both  traveling  through 
Holland  to  Belgium  and  then  France,  and  the 
customs  regulations  of  all  those  countries  varied 
with  regard  to  cigarettes.  For  instance,  you  could 
at  that  time  take  five  cartons  per  person  into 
France  but  only  two  per  person  into  Holland. 
When  I  got  to  my  customs  officer,  all  of  this  was 
clear  to  both  of  us.  Out  of  the  goodness  of  his 
heart,  he  was  reluctant  to  deprive  me  of  my  three 
extra  cartons  or  to  charge  duty  on  them,  but  he 
found  it  difficult  to  find  an  excuse  for  letting 
me  off.  Finally  he  said,  "Are  you  going  to  go  out 
of  Holland  backwards?"  I  said,  "Yes."  He  was 
overjoyed.  Then  he  said,  "You  can  keep  all  the 
cigarettes.  Have  a  good  trip."  I  left  the  line  and 
noticed  that  Merce  Cunningham  had  just  reached 
his  customs  officer  and  was  having  some  trouble 
about  the  extra  cartons.  So  I  went  over  and  told 
the  official  that  Merce  Cunningham  was  going  to 
go  out  of  Holland  backwards.  He  was  delighted. 
"Oh,"  he  said,  "in  that  case  there's  no  problem 
at  all." 

One  day  when  I  was  studying  with  Schoen- 
berg,  he  pointed  out  the  eraser  on  his  pencil  and 
said,  "This  end  is  more  important  than  the  other." 
After  twenty  years  I  learned  to  write  direcdy  in 
ink.  Recendy,  when  David  Tudor  returned  from 
Europe,  he  brought  me  a  German  pencil  of  mod- 
ern make.  It  can  carry  any  size  of  lead.  Pressure 
on  a  shaft  at  the  end  of  the  holder  frees  the  lead 
so  that  it  can  be  retracted  or  extended  or  removed 


and  another  put  in  its  place.  A  sharpener  came 
with  the  pencil.  This  sharpener  offers  not  one  but 
several  possibilities.  That  is,  one  may  choose  the 
kind  of  point  he  wishes.  There  is  no  eraser. 

During  my  last  year  in  high  school,  I  found 
out  about  the  Liberal  Catholic  Church.  It  was  in 
a  beautiful  spot  in  the  Hollywood  hills.  The  cere- 
mony was  an  anthology  of  the  most  theatrical  bits 
and  pieces  found  in  the  principal  rituals,  Occi- 
dental and  Oriental.  There  were  clouds  of  incense, 
candles  galore,  processions  in  and  around  the 
church.  I  was  fascinated,  and  though  I  had  been 
raised  in  the  Methodist  Episcopal  Church  and 
had  had  thoughts  of  going  into  the  ministry,  I 
decided  to  join  the  Liberal  Catholics.  Mother  and 
Dad  objected  strenuously.  Ultimately,  when  I  told 
them  of  my  intention  to  become  an  acolyte  active 
in  the  Mass,  they  said,  "Well,  make  up  your  mind. 
It's  us  or  the  church."  Thinking  along  the  lines  of 
"Leave  your  father  and  mother  and  follow  Me," 
I  went  to  the  priest,  told  him  what  had  hap- 
pened, and  said  I'd  decided  in  favor  of  the  Lib- 
eral Catholics.  He  said,  "Don't  be  a  fool.  Go  home. 
There  are  many  religions.  You  have  only  one 
mother  and  father." 

Schoenberg  always  complained  that  his  Amer- 
ican pupils  didn't  do  enough  work.  There  was  one 
girl  in  the  class  in  particular  who,  it  is  true,  did 
almost  no  work  at  all.  He  asked  her  one  day  why 
she  didn't  accomplish  more.  She  said,  "I  don't 
have  any  time."  He  said,  "How  many  hours  are 
there  in  the  day?"  She  said,  "Twenty-four."  He 
said,  "Nonsense:  there  are  as  many  hours  in  a  day 
as  you  put  into  it." 

A  crowded  bus  on  the  point  of  leaving  Man- 
chester for  Stockport  was  found  by  its  conductress 
to  have  one  too  many  standees.  She  therefore 
asked,  "Who  was  the  last  person  to  get  on  the 
bus?"  No  one  said  a  word.  Declaring  that  the  bus 

would  not  leave  until  the  extra  passenger  was  put 
off,  she  went  and  fetched  the  driver,  who  also 
asked,  "All  right,  who  was  the  last  person  to  get 
on  the  bus?"  Again  there  was  a  public  silence.  So 
the  two  went  to  find  an  inspector.  He  asked, 
"Who  was  the  last  person  to  get  on  the  bus?"  No 
one  spoke.  He  then  announced  that  he  would 
fetch  a  policeman.  While  the  conductress,  driver, 
and  inspector  were  away  looking  for  a  policeman, 
a  litde  man  came  up  to  the  bus  stop  and  asked, 
"Is  this  the  bus  to  Stockport?"  Hearing  that  it 
was,  he  got  on.  A  few  minutes  later  the  three  re- 
turned accompanied  by  a  policeman.  He  asked, 
"What  seems  to  be  the  trouble?  Who  was  the 
last  person  to  get  on  the  bus?"  The  little  man 
said,  "I  was."  The  policeman  said,  "All  right,  get 
off."  All  the  people  on  the  bus  burst  into  laughter. 
The  conductress,  thinking  they  were  laughing  at 
her,  burst  into  tears  and  said  she  refused  to  make 
the  trip  to  Stockport.  The  inspector  then  arranged 
for  another  conductress  to  take  over.  She,  seeing 
the  little  man  standing  at  the  bus  stop,  said, 
"What  are  you  doing  there?"  He  said,  "I'm  wait- 
ing to  go  to  Stockport."  She  said,  "Well,  this  is 
the  bus  to  Stockport.  Are  you  getting  on  or  not?" 

Alex  and  Gretchen  Corazzo  gave  a  great  deal 
of  thought  to  whether  or  not  they  would  attend 
the  funeral  of  a  close  friend.  At  the  last  minute 
they  decided  they  would  go.  Hurriedly  they 
dressed,  rushed  out  of  the  house,  arrived  late;  the 
services  had  begun.  They  took  seats  at  the  back  of 
the  chapel.  When  the  invitation  came  to  view  the 
body,  they  again  deliberated,  finally  deciding  to 
do  so.  Coming  to  the  casket,  they  discovered  they 
were  at  the  wrong  funeral. 

Xenia  told  me  once  that  when  she  was  a  child 
in  Alaska,  she  and  her  friends  had  a  club  and 
there  was  only  one  rule:  No  silliness. 

Xenia  never  wanted  a  party  to  end.  Once,  in 
Seattle,  when  the  party  we  were  at  was  folding, 


she  invited  those  who  were  still  awake,  some  of 
whom  we'd  only  met  that  evening,  to  come  over 
to  our  house.  Thus  it  was  that  about  3:00  A.M. 
an  Irish  tenor  was  singing  loudly  in  our  living 
room.  Morris  Graves,  who  had  a  suite  down  the 
hall,  entered  ours  without  knocking,  wearing  an  old- 
fashioned  nightshirt  and  carrying  an  elaborately 
made  wooden  birdcage,  the  bottom  of  which  had 
been  removed.  Making  straight  for  the  tenor, 
Graves  placed  the  birdcage  over  his  head,  said 
nothing,  and  left  the  room.  The  effect  was  that  of 
snuffing  out  a  candle.  Shortiy,  Xenia  and  I  were 

I  enrolled  in  a  class  in  mushroom  identifica- 
tion. The  teacher  was  a  Ph.D.  and  the  editor  of  a 
publication  on  mycology.  One  day  he  picked  up  a 
mushroom,  gave  a  good  deal  of  information  about 
it,  mainly  historical,  and  finally  named  the  plant 
as  Pluteus  cervinus,  edible.  I  was  certain  that  that 
plant  was  not  Pluteus  cervinus.  Due  to  the  attach- 
ment of  its  gills  to  the  stem,  it  seemed  to  me  to  be 
an  Entoloma,  and  therefore  possibly  seriously  poi- 
sonous. I  thought:  What  shall  I  do?  Point  out  the 
teacher's  error?  Or,  following  school  etiquette, 
saying  nothing,  let  other  members  of  the  class  pos- 
sibly poison  themselves?  I  decided  to  speak.  I  said, 
"I  doubt  whether  that  mushroom  is  Pluteus  cer- 
vinus. I  think  it's  an  Entoloma."  The  teacher  said, 
"Well,  we'll  key  it  out."  This  was  done,  and  it 
turned  out  I  was  right.  The  plant  was  Entoloma 
grayanum,  a  poisonous  mushroom.  The  teacher 
came  over  to  me  and  said,  "If  you  know  so  much 
about  mushrooms,  why  do  you  take  this  class?"  I 
said,  "I  take  this  class  because  there's  so  much 
about  mushrooms  I  don't  know."  Then  I  said,  "By 
the  way,  how  is  it  that  you  didn't  recognize  that 
plant?"  He  said,  "Well,  I  specialize  in  the  jelly 
fungi;  I  just  give  the  fleshy  fungi  a  whirl." 

Merce  Cunningham's  father  delights  in  gar- 
dening. Each  year  he  has  had  to  move  the  shrubs 

back  from  the  driveway  to  protect  them  from 
being  run  over  when  Mrs.  Cunningham  backs  out. 
One  day  Mrs.  Cunningham  in  backing  out  knocked 
down  but  did  not  hurt  an  elderly  gentieman  who 
had  been  taking  a  stroll.  Getting  out  of  her  car 
and  seeing  him  lying  on  the  sidewalk,  Mrs.  Cun- 
ningham said,  "What  are  you  doing  there?" 

Generally  speaking,  suicide  is  considered  a 
sin.  So  all  the  disciples  were  very  interested  to 
hear  what  Ramakrishna  would  say  about  the  fact 
that  a  four-year-old  child  had  just  then  committed 
suicide.  Ramakrishna  said  that  the  child  had  not 
sinned,  he  had  simply  corrected  an  error;  he  had 
been  born  by  mistake. 

One  day  while  I  was  composing,  the  tele- 
phone rang.  A  lady's  voice  said,  "Is  this  John 
Cage,  the  percussion  composer?"  I  said,  "Yes." 
She  said,  "This  is  the  J.  Walter  Thompson  Com- 
pany." I  didn't  know  what  that  was,  but  she  ex- 
plained that  their  business  was  advertising.  She 
said,  "Hold  on.  One  of  our  directors  wants  to 
speak  to  you."  During  a  pause  my  mind  went 
back  to  my  composition.  Then  suddenly  a  man's 
voice  said,  "Mr.  Cage,  are  you  willing  to  pros- 
titute your  art?"  I  said,  "Yes."  He  said,  "Well, 
bring  us  some  samples  Friday  at  two."  I  did. 
After  hearing  a  few  recordings,  one  of  the  direc- 
tors said  to  me,  "Wait  a  minute."  Then  seven 
directors  formed  what  looked  like  a  football  hud- 
dle. From  this  one  of  them  finally  emerged,  came 
over  to  me,  and  said,  "You're  too  good  for  us. 
We're  going  to  save  you  for  Robinson  Crusoe." 

In  the  poetry  contest  in  China  by  which  the 
Sixth  Patriarch  of  Zen  Buddhism  was  chosen, 
there  were  two  poems.  One  said:  "The  mind  is 
like  a  mirror.  It  collects  dust.  The  problem  is  to 
remove  the  dust."  The  other  and  winning  poem 
was  actually  a  reply  to  the  first.  It  said,  "Where 
is  the  mirror  and  where  is  the  dust?" 


Some  centuries  later  in  a  Japanese  monastery, 
there  was  a  monk  who  was  always  taking  baths. 
A  younger  monk  came  up  to  him  and  said,  "Why, 
if  there  is  no  dust,  are  you  always  taking  baths?" 
The  older  monk  replied,  "Just  a  dip.  No  why." 

While  we  were  sitting  on  top  of  Slide  Moun- 
tain looking  out  towards  Cornell  and  Wittenberg 
and  the  Ashokan  Reservoir  beyond,  Guy  Nearing 
said  he  had  known  two  women  who  were  bitten 
by  copperheads.  "They  were  just  the  same  after 
as  before,"  he  said,  "except  they  were  a  little 
more  cranky." 

On  Christmas  Day,  Mother  said,  "I've  lis- 
tened to  your  record  several  times.  After  hearing 
all  those  stories  about  your  childhood,  I  keep  ask- 
ing myself,  'Where  was  it  that  I  failed?'  " 

One  spring  morning  I  knocked  on  Sonya 
Sekula's  door.  She  lived  across  the  hall.  Presendy 
the  door  was  opened  just  a  crack  and  she  said 
quickly,  "I  know  you're  very  busy:  I  won't  take  a 
minute  of  your  time." 

When  the  depression  began,  I  was  in  Europe. 
After  a  while  I  came  back  and  lived  with  my 
family  in  the  Pacific  Palisades.  I  had  read  some- 
where that  Richard  Buhlig,  the  pianist,  had  years 
before  in  Berlin  given  the  first  performance  of 
Schoenberg's  Opus  11.  I  thought  to  myself:  He 
probably  fives  right  here  in  Los  Angeles.  So  I 
looked  in  the  phone  book  and,  sure  enough,  there 
was  his  name.  I  called  him  up  and  said,  "I'd  like 
to  hear  you  play  the  Schoenberg  pieces."  He 
said  he  wasn't  contemplating  giving  a  recital.  I  said, 
"Well,  surely,  you  play  at  home.  Couldn't  I  come 
over  one  day  and  hear  the  Opus  11?"  He  said, 
"Certainly  not."  He  hung  up. 

About  a  year  later,  the  family  had  to  give  up 
the  house  in  the  Palisades.  Mother  and  Dad  went 
to  an  apartment  in  Los  Angeles.  I  found  an  auto 

court  in  Santa  Monica  where,  in  exchange  for 
doing  the  gardening,  I  got  an  apartment  to  five  in 
and  a  large  room  back  of  the  court  over  the 
garages,  which  I  used  as  a  lecture  hall.  I  was 
nineteen  years  old  and  enthusiastic  about  modern 
music  and  painting.  I  went  from  house  to  house 
in  Santa  Monica  explaining  this  to  the  housewives. 
I  offered  ten  lectures  for  $2.50.  I  said,  "I  will 
learn  each  week  something  about  the  subject  that 
I  will  then  lecture  on." 

Well,  the  week  came  for  my  lecture  on  Schoen- 
berg. Except  for  a  minuet,  Opus  25,  his  music 
was  too  difficult  for  me  to  play.  No  recordings 
were  then  available.  I  thought  of  Richard  Buhlig. 
I  decided  not  to  telephone  him  but  to  go  direcdy 
to  his  house  and  visit  him.  I  hitchhiked  into  Los 
Angeles,  arriving  at  his  house  at  noon.  He  wasn't 
home.  I  took  a  pepper  bough  off  a  tree  and,  pulling 
off  the  leaves  one  by  one,  recited,  "He'll  come 
home;  he  won't;  he'll  come  home  .  .  ."  It  always 
turned  out  He'll  come  home.  He  did.  At  midnight. 
I  explained  I'd  been  waiting  to  see  him  for  twelve 
hours.  He  invited  me  into  the  house.  When  I 
asked  him  to  illustrate  my  lecture  on  Schoenberg, 
he  said,  "Certainly  not."  However,  he  said  he'd 
like  to  see  some  of  my  compositions,  and  we  made 
an  appointment  for  the  following  week. 

Somehow  I  got  through  the  lecture,  and  the 
day  came  to  show  my  work  to  Buhlig.  Again  I 
hitchhiked  into  L.A.,  arriving  somewhat  ahead  of 
time.  I  rang  the  doorbell.  Buhlig  opened  it  and 
said,  "You're  half  an  hour  early.  Come  back  at  the 
proper  time."  I  had  library  books  with  me  and 
decided  to  kill  two  birds  with  one  stone.  So  I  went 
to  the  library  to  return  the  books,  found  some  new 
ones,  and  then  came  back  to  Buhfig's  house  and 
again  rang  the  doorbell.  He  was  furious  when  he 
opened  the  door.  He  said,  "Now  you're  half  an 
hour  late."  He  took  me  into  the  house  and  lec- 
tured me  for  two  hours  on  the  importance  of  time, 
especially  for  one  who  proposed  devoting  his  life 
to  the  art  of  music. 


In  1954  an  issue  of  the  United  States  Lines  Paris  Review  devoted  to  humor  was 
being  prepared.  I  was  invited  to  write  on  the  subject  of  music.  I  contributed 
the  following  article. 


I  have  come  to  the  conclusion  that  much  can  be  learned  about  music  by 
devoting  oneself  to  the  mushroom.  For  this  purpose  I  have  recently  moved 
to  the  country.  Much  of  my  time  is  spent  poring  over  "field  companions" 
on  fungi.  These  I  obtain  at  half  price  in  second-hand  bookshops,  which 
latter  are  in  some  rare  cases  next  door  to  shops  selling  dog-eared  sheets  of 
music,  such  an  occurrence  being  greeted  by  me  as  irrefutable  evidence  that 
I  am  on  the  right  track. 

The  winter  for  mushrooms,  as  for  music,  is  a  most  sorry  season.  Only 
in  caves  and  houses  where  matters  of  temperature  and  humidity,  and  in 
concert  halls  where  matters  of  trusteeship  and  box  office  are  under  constant 
surveillance,  do  the  vulgar  and  accepted  forms  thrive.  American  commer- 
cialism has  brought  about  a  grand  deterioration  of  the  Psalliota  campestris, 
affecting  through  exports  even  the  European  market.  As  a  demanding 
gourmet  sees  but  does  not  purchase  the  marketed  mushroom,  so  a  lively 
musician  reads  from  time  to  time  the  announcements  of  concerts  and  stays 
quietly  at  home.  If,  energetically,  Collybia  velutipes  should  fruit  in  Janu- 
ary, it  is  a  rare  event,  and  happening  on  it  while  stalking  in  a  forest  is  almost 
beyond  one's  dearest  expectations,  just  as  it  is  exciting  in  New  York  to  note 
that  the  number  of  people  attending  a  winter  concert  requiring  the  use  of 
one's  faculties  is  on  the  upswing  ( 1954:  129  out  of  12,000,000;  1955:  136  out 
of  12,000,000). 

In  the  summer,  matters  are  different.  Some  three  thousand  different 


mushrooms  are  thriving  in  abundance,  and  right  and  left  there  are  Festivals 
of  Contemporary  Music.  It  is  to  be  regretted,  however,  that  the  consolida- 
tion of  the  acquisitions  of  Schoenberg  and  Stravinsky,  currently  in  vogue, 
has  not  produced  a  single  new  mushroom.  Mycologists  are  aware  that  in 
the  present  fungous  abundance,  such  as  it  is,  the  dangerous  Amanitas  play 
an  extraordinarily  large  part.  Should  not  program  chairmen,  and  music- 
lovers  in  general,  come  the  warm  months,  display  some  prudence? 

I  was  delighted  last  fall  (for  the  effects  of  summer  linger  on,  viz. 
Donaueschingen,  C.  D.  M.  I.,  etc. )  not  only  to  revisit  in  Paris  my  friend  the 
composer  Pierre  Boulez,  rue  Beautreillis,  but  also  to  attend  the  Exposition 
du  Champignon,  rue  de  Buffon.  A  week  later  in  Cologne,  from  my  vantage 
point  in  a  glass-encased  control  booth,  I  noticed  an  audience  dozing  off, 
throwing,  as  it  were,  caution  to  the  winds,  though  present  at  a  loud-speaker- 
emitted  program  of  Elektronische  Musik.  I  could  not  help  recalling  the 
riveted  attention  accorded  another  loud-speaker,  rue  de  Buffon,  which  de- 
livered on  the  hour  a  lecture  describing  mortally  poisonous  mushrooms  and 
means  for  their  identification. 

But  enough  of  the  contemporary  musical  scene;  it  is  well  known.  More 
important  is  to  determine  what  are  the  problems  confronting  the  contem- 
porary mushroom.  To  begin  with,  I  propose  that  it  should  be  determined 
which  sounds  further  the  growth  of  which  mushrooms;  whether  these  latter, 
indeed,  make  sounds  of  their  own;  whether  the  gills  of  certain  mushrooms 
are  employed  by  appropriately  small-winged  insects  for  the  production  of 
pizzicati  and  the  tubes  of  the  Boleti  by  minute  burrowing  ones  as  wind 
instruments;  whether  the  spores,  which  in  size  and  shape  are  extraordi- 
narily various,  and  in  number  countless,  do  not  on  dropping  to  the  earth 
produce  gamelan-like  sonorities;  and  finally,  whether  all  this  enterprising 
activity  which  I  suspect  delicately  exists,  could  not,  through  technological 
means,  be  brought,  amplified  and  magnified,  into  our  theatres  with  the  net 
result  of  making  our  entertainments  more  interesting. 

What  a  boon  it  would  be  for  the  recording  industry  (now  part  of 
America's  sixth  largest)  if  it  could  be  shown  that  the  performance,  while  at 
table,  of  an  LP  of  Beethoven's  Quartet  Opus  Such-and-Such  so  alters  the 
chemical  nature  of  Amanita  muscaria  as  to  render  it  both  digestible  and 

Lest  I  be  found  frivolous  and  light-headed  and,  worse,  an  "impurist" 


for  having  brought  about  the  marriage  of  the  agaric  with  Euterpe,  observe 
that  composers  are  continually  mixing  up  music  with  something  else. 
Karlheinz  Stockhausen  is  clearly  interested  in  music  and  juggling,  con- 
structing as  he  does  "global  structures,"  which  can  be  of  service  only  when 
tossed  in  the  air;  while  my  friend  Pierre  Boulez,  as  he  revealed  in  a  recent 
article  (Nouvelle  Revue  Frangaise,  November  1954),  is  interested  in  music 
and  parentheses  and  italics]  This  combination  of  interests  seems  to  me  ex- 
cessive in  number.  I  prefer  my  own  choice  of  the  mushroom.  Furthermore 
it  is  avant-garde. 

I  have  spent  many  pleasant  hours  in  the  woods  conducting  perform- 
ances of  my  silent  piece,  transcriptions,  that  is,  for  an  audience  of  myself, 
since  they  were  much  longer  than  the  popular  length  which  I  have  had 
published.  At  one  performance,  I  passed  the  first  movement  by  attempting 
the  identification  of  a  mushroom  which  remained  successfully  unidentified. 
The  second  movement  was  extremely  dramatic,  beginning  with  the  sounds 
of  a  buck  and  a  doe  leaping  up  to  within  ten  feet  of  my  rocky  podium.  The 
expressivity  of  this  movement  was  not  only  dramatic  but  unusually  sad 
from  my  point  of  view,  for  the  animals  were  frightened  simply  because  I 
was  a  human  being.  However,  they  left  hesitatingly  and  fittingly  within  the 
structure  of  the  work.  The  third  movement  was  a  return  to  the  theme  of  the 
first,  but  with  all  those  profound,  so-well-known  alterations  of  world  feeling 
associated  by  German  tradition  with  the  A-B-A. 

In  the  space  that  remains,  I  would  like  to  emphasize  that  I  am  not 
interested  in  the  relationships  between  sounds  and  mushrooms  any  more 
than  I  am  in  those  between  sounds  and  other  sounds.  These  would  involve 
an  introduction  of  logic  that  is  not  only  out  of  place  in  the  world,  but  time- 
consuming.  We  exist  in  a  situation  demanding  greater  earnestness,  as  I  can 
testify,  since  recently  I  was  hospitalized  after  having  cooked  and  eaten 
experimentally  some  Spathyema  foetida,  commonly  known  as  skunk  cab- 
bage. My  blood  pressure  went  down  to  fifty,  stomach  was  pumped,  etc.  It 
behooves  us  therefore  to  see  each  thing  directly  as  it  is,  be  it  the  sound  of  a 
tin  whistle  or  the  elegant  Lepiota  procera. 


^^~               DATE  DUE 

OCT  2  7  1? 


0£C  0  2 


>'    i](fift'r~> 




■AY  2  12' 


MAY  p  1  ; 



DEC  0  1  ^ 




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OC  11 



3 5002  00223  0725 







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